The Justice Department has given the go-ahead for the sale of Farmland Foods. Now, Smithfield Foods and Cargill can have a bidding to war to see which one comes out the winner.

"It's disheartening that the Justice Department won't intervene in the bankruptcy court's sale of Farmland Foods," says Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who requested the investigation. "The continued trend in agriculture concentration works against the family farmer, and today's news is very bad for Iowa's independent pork producers."

According to a DTN, “We’ve closed the investigation and the auction will be allowed,” says Gina Dalamona, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

“We reviewed thousands of pages of documents from all of the companies involved, we interviewed numerous pork producers in the Midwest, consulted with representatives of several attorneys general offices, we consulted with USDA and basically concluded, with respect to either transaction, that neither Smithfield nor Cargill would represent as much as 30 percent of live hog purchases post acquisition,” she notes.

Also, the DOJ concluded that Cargill or Smithfield would still have to compete against six other packers.

Farmland’s pork operations will go on the auction block on Sunday, Oct. 12, and continue into Monday, if necessary. The top bidder will earn Farmland’s three pork slaughter plants in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, and four processing plants in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and the Northeast.

A judge will finalize the sale at a hearing on Oct. 28.

To view a copy of the DOJ ruling, go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/

DTN, Reuters