A coalition representing 17 farm groups has sent a letter to the Obama Administration, protesting the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods by a Chinese company.
China’s largest meat producer has proposed to buy Smithfield for $4.7 billion.
Center for Rural Affairs Assistant Executive Director Brian DePew says coalition members believe the Chinese acquisition will lead to increased concentration in the meat packing industry.
“Really, it’s just a continuation of what we have seen, international conglomerates buying up additional meat-packing capacity and consolidating further and it puts family farmers and ranchers at a really steep competitive disadvantage,” DePew tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX.
DePew says the sale would not only further concentrate the meat packing industry, but would compromise food safety.
“When you look at where the food safety outbreaks have happened, it has been from the vertically integrated plants,” DePew asserts.
The top executive of Smithfield recently defended the proposed sale during a Senate hearing in Washington. Smithfield CEO Larry Pope said his company remains committed to producing a safe product and that the sale to Shuanghui International Holdings would create jobs and increase pork exports.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this report.