A coalition of farm, rural and consumer organizations delivered a letter Tuesday to the members of Pres. Barack Obama's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, urging them to recommend rejection of the proposed Shuanghui International Holdings, Ltd. acquisition of Smithfield Foods. The letter lists risks of a Shuanghui takeover of Smithfield to food security, consumer food prices, food safety, farm and rural economies in the United States, as well as national security.
Shuanghui’s purchase of Smithfield would transfer ownership of a company that controls more than a quarter of American pork production and buys or contracts another quarter of U.S. hogs.
The proposed deal is expected to shift Smithfield pork production towards exports to feed the Chinese market, which would likely significantly increase retail pork prices for American consumers. And, it would make many U.S. hog producers dependent on a foreign firm for hog contracts and prices, critics warn.
Tim Gibbons with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center said the 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.
"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,” Gibbons said.
The letter was delivered to the cabinet secretaries that make up the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
It comes on the eve of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee oversight hearing into the proposed acquisition of Smithfield.
To read the letter, click HERE.
The letter was signed by the Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Coalition for a Prosperous America, Center for Rural Affairs, Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, Food & Water Watch, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Land Stewardship Project, Missouri’s Best Beef Co-Operative, Missouri Farmers Union, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union, Nebraska Farmers Union, Organization for Competitive Markets, Rural Advancement Foundation International—USA, R-CALF USA and Western Organization of Resource Councils.