An Iowa district court judge has ruled that Smithfield Foods did not violate any laws when it acquired control of the Iowa hog operations of Murphy Family Farms Inc.

Iowa law prohibits meat packers from owning livestock. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller sued Smithfield in January 2000, charging the company used a “sham” to subvert state law after it bought all of Murphy's operations.

Humboldt County Judge Ronald H. Schechtman ruled there was no sham in the transaction in which Smithfield permitted Randall Stoecker, Murphy's Iowa farm operations manager, to acquire the Iowa business.

Stoecker created a business called Stoecker Farms with $10,000 of his own money, the court ruling said.

Stoecker Farms paid $79.3 million to buy Murphy's Iowa assets; the sale was completed before Smithfield's $460 million acquisition of Murphy's operations nationwide.

The Iowa attorney general's office has not indicated if it plans to appeal the verdict.