PBS NewsHour Investigation on Chinese Acquisition of American Food Company Reveals Stabenow’s Intent to Introduce Legislation Overhauling Government Review Process
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, continued this weekend to raise concerns about Chinese acquisitions of American food companies and the implications that could have on national and economic security – as well as broader American interests. Stabenow’s comments came during a special PBS NewsHour investigation about the recent acquisition of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods by Chinese food company Shuanghui Intl. – the largest purchase of an American company by China to date. The report indicated Stabenow is drafting legislation to overhaul the American government’s review process for foreign acquisitions.
“Food security is national security,” Stabenow said in the report, which can be seen here. “And I can’t imagine that the American people will feel comfortable if they wake up someday and find that half of our food processors are owned by China. And I think there are some very, very tough questions that need to be answered.”
Stabenow convened a hearing last July examining the potential impact the Smithfield purchase could have on American food safety, economic and national security and broader American interests. She said it’s crucial that the government’s review process for foreign acquisitions of American companies take into consideration the impact that the purchase could have on a broad array of national priorities and interests.
“I firmly believe that economic security is part of our national security, and that it should be considered when our government reviews foreign investment into the United States,” Stabenow said during the Committee hearing last July. “We need to evaluate how foreign purchases of our food supply will affect our economy broadly, and frankly, whether there is a level playing field when it comes to these kinds of business purchases.”
Chairwoman Stabenow said the private and secretive nature of the government’s review process of foreign acquisitions – overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – raises serious questions about what factors are taken into consideration when undergoing evaluation. Stabenow, along with other Members of the Committee, urged the Secretary of the Treasury last year to include the USDA and FDA in the review process of the Smithfield transaction, pressing that food safety and food security concerns have important implications for national and economic security.
The two-part PBS NewsHour investigation, which aired over the weekend as part of the Food for 9 Billion series, can be watched by clicking here.
More from Chairwoman Stabenow’s Smithfield hearing can be found here, and an archived webcast of the hearing is also available for watching here.
Additionally, an op-ed Chairwoman Stabenow penned for Politico last September, continuing to raise concerns with the government review process, can be read here.