Bunge North America Inc. announced earlier this month that it had completed the previously announced sale of 35 U.S. interior elevators to Zen-Noh Grain Corp. Zen-Noh is a subsidiary of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations of Japan.

At the same time, Zen-Noh immediately divested itself of nine of these facilities, along with a 10th operated by Zen-Noh’s Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. (CGB) affiliate, selling these to Viserion Grain LLC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. This satisfies the U.S. Justice Department requirement that Zen-Noh divest nine grain elevators in nine geographic areas located in five states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in order to proceed with the proposed $300 million acquisition of 35 operating and 13 idled grain elevators from Bunge. 

“American farmers produce the crops that feed our nation and the world,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said in June. “Without this comprehensive divestiture, many American farmers would have faced lower prices for the corn and soybeans they produce. The divestiture of these assets protects vital competition in our nation’s agricultural industry.”

The sales to Viserion were made to maintain market competitiveness as mandated by the DOJ. Most of the 35 elevators are located along the Mississippi River and its tributaries where grain shippers rely heavily on barges to deliver grain to the export markets,the USDA said. Headquartered in Covington, La., Zen-Noh operates an export terminal in nearby Convent, La.

According to the DOJ, Zen-Noh’s divestiture ensures that other grain buyers will be well positioned to compete with larger companies in trading corn and soybeans. The preservation of competition should benefit farmers, as well as grain shippers, the DOJ and USDA said.