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Local Pork Producer Anticipates Positive Impact from International Deal

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KALONA, Iowa - A local pork producer believes that the $4.7 billion buyout of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods by Chinese company Shuanhui International could mean positive things for the U.S. pork industry.

"The potential's there for it to be a good thing," said Adam Hocker, Controller at Brenneman Pork in rural Kalona.

Hocker said his company puts about a half-million pigs to market every year, and the international deal could help to stabilize his business, and get a lock on China's pork imports.

"In the past, China's kind of been in and out of the market as they see fit, and with Smithfield being purchased, hopefully that gives us a more consistent market, and allow us to get more product over there," Hocker told us.

Though Hocker's take on the situation is positive, there are concerns being expressed by the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee. Lawmakers are debating what the deal could mean for food safety, in both the U.S. and China. They say it also raises questions about foreign ownership of U.S. food supply. However, as long as the process is one-way - that is, from our soil to Chinese soil - Hocker doesn't believe there's reason to worry.

"This probably got them a better product, a safer product, than what they're able to produce there," he said.

Hocker explained that the U.S. is in a unique position to grow and provide inexpensive food for its hogs, meaning cheaper pork, and it's understandable that foreign countries want to "gain some of those benefits."

Smithfield owns several processing plants in the state of Iowa. When asked about the company's sale and any possible impact to local pork operations, spokesperson Keira Lombardo issued the following statement:

"With respect to agriculture, we expect this transaction to drive growth and expansion not only for our growers, but for the entire U.S. pork industry. Smithfield Foods owns over 400 hog farms and has contracts with more than 2,000 family farmers across the country. Our agreement with Shuanghui will maintain all of these contracts and arrangements. Moreover, this transaction creates a terrific opportunity through growth in exports for U.S. hog farmers to expand production to meet the growing Chinese demand."

We also reached out to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), as the deal must receive their approval before being finalized. They released a statement saying information filed with CFIUS may not be disclosed by CFIUS to the public.

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