Senate Agriculture Committee to Eye Smithfield Purchase

"Smithfield and Beyond: Examining Foreign Purchases of American Food Companies" is the provocative title of a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing scheduled for July 10 at 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington.

The hearing will examine the pending purchase of Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., which has created concerns from some lawmakers and others about the impact on the safety of the U.S. food supply.

The concern is not just about Smithfield because it's the world's largest processor and producer of pork, but there are concerns over foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land (which has never been allowed before) and the fact that this would be the largest acquisition of an American company by a Chinese company.

"The hearing will also more broadly examine how the government review process of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies addresses American food safety, protection of American technologies and intellectual property, and the effects of increased foreign ownership of the U.S. food supply," the committee said in its website announcement (www.ag.senate.gov/hearings/smithfield-and-beyond_examining-foreign-purchases-of-american-food-companies).

Witnesses expected are: Matthew Slaughter of the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth, N.H.; Usha Haley, professor and director of the Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy in Washington; Daniel Slane, commissioner of U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Washington; and Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods.

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