(AP) The U.S. Justice Department has reached a $900,000 settlement with Smithfield Foods Inc. and Missouri-based Premium Standard Farms over premerger rule violations.

The two companies announced their proposed merger in September 2006. The Justice Department's antitrust division alleged that Virginia-based Smithfield began running a significant part of Premium Standard's business before a mandatory waiting period expired.

The waiting period allows federal agencies to investigate pending mergers for possible antitrust problems. The Justice Department says Premium Standard sought Smithfield's consent for all hog procurement contracts during the waiting period.

The merger of Premium Standard with Smithfield, the world's largest pork producer, was completed in May 2007. Premium Standard has its main offices in the northwest Missouri town of Princeton.
The settlement was announced Thursday.

Source: Associated Press