COURT RULING ALLOWS CATTLEMEN TO JOIN SUIT AGAINST IBP
A ruling by a federal judge has cleared the way for more than 30,000 cattlemen from across the country to join a lawsuit against the nation's largest meat packer, IBP Inc.
Senior U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom issued a ruling last week to potentially include all U.S. cattle producers and owners who sold cattle to IBP on a cash basis since February 1994. The suit claims IBP conspired to fix prices paid on an open market.
The ruling paves the way for the lawsuit to continue and it could be tried in federal court in Montgomery. Without class-action status, the case may have been dismissed.
The suit was originally filed by 10 cattlemen who claimed IBP was violating antitrust laws by buying mostly packer-owned cattle and cattle committed to packers under long-term contracts -- rather than bidding on auction markets -- to unfairly depress prices paid to producers.
The suit claims that IBP's method of buying cattle was unfair because the company agreed with cattle producers to buy at a certain price in the future. Other producers who have not entered into these types of contracts with IBP are then left to sell their cattle in a market where the demand and price has been reduced. IBP, which is based in Dakota Dunes, S.D., controls more than a third of the U.S. beef packing industry.