Cargill and Continental Grain completed their acquisition of poultry company Sanderson Farms on Friday, finishing a process that has been heavily scrutinized by the Justice Department. Sanderson Farms had agreed to sell for about $4.5 billion, providing shareholders with $203.00 per share.
As part of the deal, the companies combined Sanderson Farms with Continental Grain subsidiary Wayne Farms. Wayne-Sanderson Farms, the new name for the company, will be headquartered in Oakwood, Georgia, and will be led by current Wayne Farms CEO Clint Rivers.
"I am honored to lead the new Wayne-Sanderson Farms, which brings together a talented team with complementary operations and cultures and a strong commitment to employees, farmers and the communities where we operate," Rivers wrote in a release.
The two companies announced the acquisition on Aug. 9, 2021, though the process was stalled by DOJ's antitrust review. According to the Wall Street Journal, one of the concessions the companies made to appease the DOJ may have been an agreement to not implement the tournament system used by other chicken companies. Other discussions may have focused on worker pay.
On Monday, July 25, DOJ announced agreements it reached with Cargill, Wayne Farms and Sanderson Farms to compensate poultry plant workers harmed by an “information exchange conspiracy” to suppress worker pay, with $84.8 million.
Proposed consent decrees reached with the companies, DOJ said, also would “prevent Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms from penalizing chicken growers by reducing their base payments as a result of relative performance, while still allowing for incentive, bonus and other types of payments to growers; require expanded information disclosures in grower contracts, consistent with proposed transparency rules set out by the USDA; and prohibit retaliation against growers who raise antitrust concerns with the court-appointed compliance monitor or the government.”
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Wayne-Sanderson farms has processing and prepared foods facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.
Joe F. Sanderson, Jr. said, “It has been an incredible privilege to lead the Sanderson Farms team over the last thirty-three years and to continue my family’s legacy by helping to nourish families across the country. I am proud of all we have achieved together, and I am confident that the fairness, honesty and integrity that has been synonymous with the Sanderson Farms name will carry on with Wayne-Sanderson Farms.”
Sanderson, based in Mississippi, had been the nation's third largest chicken processor.
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This story was updated July 25 with new information about the agreements reached between the companies and the Justice Department, including $84.8 million in payments to workers.