U.S. Premium Beef, LLC and National Beef Packing Company, LLC announced early Friday that the membership interest purchase agreement with JBS S.A. previously announced on March 4, 2008, has been terminated effective as of Feb. 23.

U.S. Premium Beef LLC and National Beef Packing Company LLC said Friday that the membership interest purchase agreement with JBS S.A. announced on March 4, 2008, has been terminated effective as of Feb. 23. 

Steve Hunt, CEO of U.S. Premium Beef, told the Dodge City Daily Globe that a Department of Justice lawsuit filed last fall to block completion of the purchase was what led to the decision to call off the purchase.

"All parties worked pretty hard this past year to come to a successful conclusion," Hunt said. "As you're aware, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the closing."

Hunt said neither JBS nor the DOJ were able to reach an agreement on how to proceed, so they simply decided to terminate the deal.

“Although this is not the outcome we anticipated, we are excited to continue the growth and success of our business on a stand-alone basis," Hunt said.

According to a press release from JBS, termination of the purchase effectively renders all litigation moot as well.

Hunt said the termination of the deal between the two producers isn't expected to affect any U.S. Premium Beef or National Beef employees — including those at the Dodge City and Liberal plants.

"We're not anticipating any major changes," Hunt said. "We're a growing and thriving business. We just finished a record 2008 and had a very strong first quarter."

National Beef is one of Dodge City's two largest employers, with several thousand employed at the local plant.

“This development has re-energized our management team," said John Miller, CEO of National Beef, in a statement. "With our strong liquidity position and numerous opportunities to grow our business – both internally and externally – we are eagerly looking forward to building on our value-added model while continuing to focus on serving the needs of our customers.” 

National Beef has operations in Liberal, Dodge City, Brawley, Calif., Hummels Wharf, Pa., Moultrie, Ga., and Kansas City, Kan.

Dodge City Daily Globe