Smithfield-Shuanghui Deal is Good for America's Farmers
It has the promise to produce more food and jobs for us here in the states, while opening up new opportunities abroad
By Jill Appell, Farmer
As someone who was a pork producer until recently, I still follow what is happening in the livestock industry. Although I was surprised by the impending sale of Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui, I think that this deal could be good for both the U.S. and for China. I believe this is a real opportunity to showcase America's rich history, experience, and best practices in agriculture on a global stage.
The U.S. agriculture industry is the gold standard. Our best practices in food safety and sustainability and world-class logistics and efficiency make America a low-cost, high-quality producer of hogs and pork products. Today, we are in a position of strength with a surplus of high-quality protein, while China's growing middle class is demanding more than their country can provide.
It is important to remember that, at its core, this transaction is about providing Chinese families with the same safe and nutritious pork products that are available here in the United States. It is about increasing America's exports to China and opening up new markets to products that are "Made in America."
China is the No. 1 consumer of pork; in fact, they eat almost half of the world's pork consumption. The proposed Smithfield transaction is a positive step toward narrowing the gap in our currently imbalanced trade relationship.
Farmers have been the cornerstone of our economy for centuries, and the Shuanghui-Smithfield transaction will help fuel this important industry. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is supportive, citing the transaction's benefits for workers and communities across our country. This deal is good for America as it has the promise to produce more food and jobs for us here in the States, while opening up new opportunities abroad
The farming community is applauding this deal. Pork producers have reason to celebrate. Selling more pork is beneficial to all producers not just to Smithfield. There has been a lot of red ink in the last few years, and increased demand for pork will help all producers' bottom lines.
We sold our hogs to Farmland in Monmouth, Ill. When Smithfield bought Farmland, there was concern that there would not be the same quality control, environmental responsibility and animal welfare concerns. We could not have been more wrong. Farmland has continued to be a positive influence in the community; they have become the poster child for site beautification. There is very little employee turnover. The plant is always trying to make improvements in the working conditions and in the handling of the animals. The combined companies' promise to keep Smithfield intact makes it easy for me to support this transaction.
In order to sell to Farmland, we had to be Pork Quality Assurance and Truckers Quality Assurance certified. When we delivered hogs to the plant, someone checked to make sure that my husband's certifications were current. In addition, we had a semiannual, on-farm audit conducted by Farmland to ensure that we were employing the required practices on the farm, and that we had records to verify what we were doing.
This transaction cannot pose any risk to the American food supply. All pork products produced and sold in the U.S. are, and will continue to be, governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at every step of the production process and all along the supply chain. In this transaction, we are selling pork and pork products to China; China is not selling pork to the U.S. In addition, China will not be dictating production, environmental or animal welfare standards to Smithfield. Again, the combined companies have promised to keep Smithfield intact.
I was not reared on a farm; I grew up in the northern Chicago suburbs of Highland Park and Libertyville. I always loved farming, and my parents and grandparents had a lot of respect for those who worked so hard to provide food to the rest of us. Today's farmers have to provide for a lot more people than in the past, and the need for more food production will continue to grow.
I believe that Smithfield will continue to provide customers with the same high-quality, delicious pork products they have come to expect from Smithfield for more than 80 years.
Amidst all the rhetoric, we must not lose sight that this deal is as good for American farmers, pork producers and U.S. agriculture as it is good for China. It is a win-win deal.