ContiBeef LLC, a subsidiary of ContiGroup Companies, Inc., and MF Cattle Feeding, Inc., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc., have agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture cattle feeding business.

The new entity, whose name has yet to be determined, will include all six feedyards currently owned by ContiBeef and the four feedyards owned by Smithfield since October 2004.

It will operate in five states; Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with a one-time total feeding capacity of 811,000 head and expects to sell cattle to multiple US beef packing firms throughout the US.

The joint venture will be a stand-alone operating company, independent from both ContiGroup Companies and Smithfield Foods.

Mike Thoren, currently president and chief executive officer of ContiBeef, will be named President and CEO of the joint venture. “We believe the merger is an exciting growth opportunity for both businesses, their employees, and for the cattle industry as a whole,” he said  The new entity expects to formally commence operations by April 30, 2005. “We expect a seamless transition for all of our customers, he said.”