Thu May 29, 2014 04:39 PM CDT

DENVER (AP) -- Ardent Mills, a joint venture by ConAgra Mills, Cargill and CHS, began operating as the nation's largest flour milling company on Thursday, following approval by the U.S. Justice Department.

Ardent Mills, which will be based in the Denver area, combines the resources and facilities of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling, a previous joint venture of Cargill and CHS. It has 40 flour mills, three bakery mix facilities and a specialty bakery in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. It will also have satellite offices in Omaha and Minneapolis.

Some watchdog groups opposed the venture fearing it ...

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