New legislation to overhaul how the government reviews foreign investors' purchases of American companies could be on the way, a new PBS report featuring commentary from Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., finds.
The PBS NewsHour Investigation, which aired Sept. 12, indicated that Stabenow questioned the May, 2013, Chinese acquisition of American food company Smithfield and the implications it and similar purchases could have on national and economic security and broader American interests.
"Food security is national security," Stabenow said in the report. "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."
In a deal worth $4.7 billion, China's Shuanghui International in 2013 closed the largest purchase of an American company by a Chinese company to date.
Met with a fair amount of scrutiny and even a few hearings to discuss the consequences of such a purchase, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the sale despite some concerns from the ag industry, and it closed last September.
At the time, Stabenow was relatively skeptical of the situation, which Smithfield officials said would improve the position of American pork due to better access to China's meat-eating middle class.
"I'm all about exports, I want to see us export our products but it seems to me removing the unfair barriers from China would be a lot quicker and more efficient than saying the only way they can get in is if they own our company. That just doesn't make sense to me," Stabenow said in a hearing last July.
Now, the Michigan Senator is considering legislation to re-work the review process that approves such deals, the NewsHour report said.
"I think there are some very, very tough questions that need to be answered," Stabenow noted.
View the full PBS report below, and catch up on the Shuanghui-Smithfield deal with these links:
Senate Ag Committee Not Sold On Smithfield Takeover
Legislators Uncertain About Smithfield Merger
Smithfield Gets U.S. Approval for Chinese Deal
Source: Senate Ag Committee