That was the question on most minds during the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) meeting this week in Colorado Springs. However, Douglas Ross, special counsel for ag with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, says he doesn’t know when a decision would be released on the proposed purchase by JBS Swift of National Beef and Smithfield’s beef plants.

Each case is fact-specific, he says, promising a thorough analysis of the facts in the case. However, in three previous cases with similar implications – Cargill-Continental Grain; Smithfield-Farmland; and Smithfield-Premium Standard Farms – the time frame varied from eight to 16 months before the Department of Justice announced its findings.

We take the concerns we’ve heard about concentration very seriously,” he says. “But it’s not enough to say we think there’s too much concentration. We have to do further analysis to see if it will be anti-competitive.”

Others on the CCA program ventured the following guesses on a forthcoming decision: Cattle-Fax CEO Randy Blach anticipates a decision no sooner than August. Gregg Doud, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association chief economist, thinks it could come as early as next month.