The news that Chinese company Shuanghui International plans to purchase pork producer Smithfield Foods is only hours old, but it is already raising alarm of one powerful farmer.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley is calling for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review the proposed acquisition. That interagency panel reviews purchases that allow foreign entities to take control of U.S. companies. The Iowa Republican also is using the news to renew his call for country of origin labeling.
“Like so many Americans, I would rather eat pork, beef and poultry raised in the United States,” Grassley said in a statement. “The deal only makes it more logical to ensure that American consumers know exactly what they are paying for and eating.”
Grassley, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, also wants the Justice Department to review the acquisition on antitrust grounds.
“The fact of the matter is that vertical integration leaves the independent producer with even fewer choices of who to buy from and sell to and hurts a farmer’s ability to get a fair price for his products. Concentration also leads to consumers having fewer choices and higher costs at the grocery store,” Grassley said. “The Justice Department should take a close look at this agreement.”
Grassley is not alone. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., also raised concerns about food safety risks associated with the deal.
“This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers. We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork. This merger may only make it more difficult to protect the food supply,” DeLauro said in a statement. She used to be the top House Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Agriculture Department.