A US appeals court has unanimously upheld a ruling that clears Tyson Fresh Meats, a subsidiary of meat processor Tyson Foods, of any wrongdoing in a long-running cattle pricing lawsuit, the company has said.

Tyson said the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals backed Judge Lyle Strom’s decision last year to reverse a jury verdict against Tyson. Both the appeals court and Judge Strom found that Tyson did not violate the law through its supply agreements with independent cattle producers.

The plaintiffs had claimed Tyson Fresh Meats, known as Ibp when the suit was filed in 1996, used cattle marketing agreements to manipulate the price of cattle, and asked the federal courts to enjoin the use of marketing agreements. 

According to the appeals court ruling, “The evidence is undisputed that marketing agreements provide a more reliable and stable supply of cattle for meat packers, reduce their transaction costs for purchasing cattle, and allow them to better match price to actual quality and yield.”

“We’re extremely satisfied by this decision, which protects the freedom of US producers to market cattle the way they want and proves our livestock buying practices are proper,” said John Tyson, chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods.