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Chinese Company To Buy Smithfield Foods

The parent company of a large meatpacking operation in Sioux Falls is selling to a Chinese business. The CEO of Smithfield Foods says people who are with John Morrell in Sioux Falls and other plants should embrace the opportunity.

Chinese pork producer Shuanghi is investing billions of dollars to purchase America’s Smithfield foods. Smithfield employs 46,000 people. Smithfield’s President and CEO Larry Pope says workers and farmers should not worry about downsizing, because Shuanghi is not moving operations to China.

Pope says the deal puts more American food in China, not the other way around. Pope says people should look inside the refrigerator.

"If you open up the door, you’ll find out nothing’s made in china," Pope says. "That’s made in America, and there’s a reason for that. American agriculture is the most competitive in the world. Given a level playing field, we can compete with anybody."

Pope says the transaction is an opportunity for China to bring protein into Asia at a lower cost, because American farmers are competitive and efficient. He says American pork production is likely to increase following the sale.

"America’s farmers are the best in the world. So what this does is give those farmers access to Asian market who are protein-starved, and it’s going to be protein-deficit for a long time," Pope says. "By this transaction, this is going to be good for agriculture and protein development in the United States for years into the future."

"This means more jobs, more plants in America. This is exporting manufacturing from China to the U.S.," Pope says.

The Smithfield Foods leader says American operators shouldn't be concerned about Chinese products being processed in the United States.

"There is no plan to move China-produced pork to the United States. That wouldn’t make any sense. That’s sort of like exporting ice to the Eskimos. It’s a dumb idea!"

Pope says the Chinese company wants to provide high-quality products to Asian consumers. He says the company plans to keep all of the current operations in America, because U.S. farmers can produce pork at a lower cost.

Back in April, South Dakota’s Governor Dennis Daugaard visited China. He remarked that Chinese investors were interested in an ag processing facility in South Dakota, but he didn’t offer any specifics about the transaction at that time.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).