First it was lawmakers questioning the proposed sale of Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International, and now concerned agriculture groups are also ready to be heard.
Earlier this month, a coalition of 17 farm, rural and consumer organizations delivered a letter to members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), urging them to recommend that the Obama administration reject the proposed acquisition.
“Smithfield has shifted half of its pork production and processing to ractopomine-free pork, which many observers believe was designed to court Chinese buyers since China will not import pork raised with ractopomine. If Shuanghui diverts fully half of Smithfield’s production to export to the Chinese market, the exports from U.S. plants would increase by about 2 billion pounds,” the letter said.
Tim Gibbons with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, one of the groups represented by the letter, reiterated the letter’s opposition to the deal.
“This proposed acquisition is a prime example of how expanded corporate consolidation in agriculture has gone too far, resulting in lack of markets for independent producers, and damaging effects on our rural economies and country,” he said. “The Smithfield purchase turns over American farms to a consolidated, globalized meatpacking industry that leaves rural communities to clean up the waste while China gets the meat.”
On Friday, National Farmers Union President Roder Johnson sent another letter to U.S. treasury Secretary Jack Law, chairmen of the CFIUS.
“The costs of the acquisition far outweigh the benefits to Americans, and the security of our domestic food system is threatened by foreign control,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “ I urge CFIUS to set a bold precedent – that the administration values our farms, our food, and our rural economies so much that the federal government will stand up to a takeover of a large swath of our agriculture industry.”
Shuanghui’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods, if approved, would be the largest sale of a U.S. company to China.