Morehead City, N.C.
June 19, 2018
TO THE EDITOR:
By Thursday June 14, 2018, the state House and Senate had both adopted a new Farm Act, Senate Bill 711, that limits when and how hog-farm neighbors can file nuisance suits. It launched heated debate on the House floor. I grew up on a farm and a hog farm operation, as the bird flies, was about ¾ mile away. There were days when the smell outside was definitely not pleasant.
New management practices by N.C. State University have helped hog farmers improve lagoon operations and waste treatment. There are some frivolous and nuisance type lawsuits, but each situation deserves unbiased monitoring to make sure we don’t pollute the neighbors’ property and violate their rights.
Under the bill, a nuisance lawsuit can’t be filed unless it’s done within a year of the establishment of the agriculture or forestry operation on which the complaint is focused or within a year of “fundamental change.” “Fundamental change” does not include changes in ownership, technology, product or size of the operation. The bill further limits when punitive damages can be awarded. Unless a farm operator has a criminal conviction or has received a regulatory notice of violation that state farm laws were broken, such damages won’t be allowed.
North Carolina has about 9 million hogs on nearly 2,300 hog farm operations. Iowa is the only state with more hogs, showing an inventory of about 21.8 million in 2017.
My comments have to do not with the lawsuits side of the hog farm issue, but the owner of most of the N.C. hog farm operations, Smithfield Foods. The News & Observer article states that Smithfield Foods, which describes itself as a $15 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer is owned by WH Group, which has headquarters in Hong Kong and generated $32 billion in revenue last year.
The U.S. government in September, 2013, approved Shuanghui International Holding’s bid to buy iconic U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date.
From a financial standpoint, and in the security of the USA, selling Smithfield Foods to the Chinese was one of the stupidiest economic decisions the USA has ever made. The bottom line is “we should never sell our source of food supply to a foreign government.” We did not have to do that, there were plenty of other sources who could have bought the business. Rev. John Hagee, Texas, has mentioned that several times in his sermons on how we should protect the food supply of the USA or we will pay a heavy price in the future. We have the talent in the USA to market our own farm products without the attitude of total control from China.
Smithfield Foods, producer of the iconic holiday ham, was one of America’s flagship food companies steeped in centuries of U.S. tradition. The Virginia based pork company derived its ham from a curing process Native Americans taught settlers five centuries ago. It owned part of Main Street in the town of Smithfield — including a restaurant, an historic Southern hotel and the company’s nearby headquarters.
In 2013, a Chinese firm bought this quintessential slice of Americana — Main Street and all. The take over, valued at $7.1 billion, remains the largest ever Chinese acquisition of an American company.
Chinese companies, at the urging of their government, have launched a global buying spree, a new phase in their unprecedented economic experiment. And they’re targeting a resource that climate scientists, economists, the U.S. government, even Wall Street, all forecast will become dangerously scarce in the coming decades: food.
Food is poised to become the oil of the 21st century, with scarcity and demand creating a situation ripe for wars, riots and uprisings. The world is set for a geopolitical struggle over food.
The Chinese government already is dealing with looming food shortages within its own borders as tens of millions are eating more as they move from poverty into the middle class. The government is pushing Chinese businesses — both state-owned and privately held — to gobble up agricultural resources from around the world, including Africa, Europe and the United States.
With the Smithfield purchase, a Chinese company now owns one in four pigs raised in the U.S.
Earlier the Chinese government had signaled its strong desire for overseas agriculture. It had unveiled its five-year plan, which amounts to the Communist Party’s roadmap for the country’s economy. A major focus of this plan: buying up overseas farmland and foreign food companies.
In 2011, the year the five-year plan was announced, Chinese nationals owned $81 million worth of U.S. farmland. By the end of 2012, the Chinese owned $900 million in U.S. farmland — a 1,000% increase — making them the largest buyers that year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Smithfield deal included another $480 million in U.S. farmland, which would push the Chinese stake to nearly $1.4 billion in less than two years.
The Chinese government acts like a de facto board of directors for the country’s domestic industries — even for publicly traded companies like Shuanghui. The Communist Party issues the five-year plan, and Shuanghui is expected to follow that direction. The government can say it wants the Chinese meat industry to employ certain strategies, and all domestic companies are expected to adhere.
For more than eight years, Usha Haley has researched the Chinese impact on U.S. industries as a business professor at West Virginia University. And she said, based on her research, the Smithfield deal was likely China’s opening salvo to take control of the U.S industry — pork.
With its five-year plan in 2011, the Chinese government identified meat processing as a strategically important industry, and with the Smithfield purchase, the country gained access to the world’s most advanced animal rearing, slaughtering and meat processing and distribution technology, she said. Haley has testified before Congress several times on how China’s growth is damaging the U.S. economy.
Haley has found that China begins by importing the technological know how and raw materials from the U.S. Then Chinese businesses use cheap labor to manufacture products for export back to the United States — offering lower prices in direct competition with established businesses in the U.S. This part of her theory is obviously not new.
China’s big advantage is not just the cheaper labor. So what is it? Heavy subsidies from the Chinese government, she says.
In the past decade, this is the destructive pattern China has developed to compete against other U.S. industries such as steel, paper and solar power, said Haley. Chinese businesses are able to undercut the prices of American producers and begin to control a larger and larger share of the market.
China used cyber attacks to access data from nearly 40 Pentagon weapons programs and almost 30 other defense technologies.
Why sell our food supply to a nation that wants to destroy the USA through cyber attacks on our military and financial structure. This is no secret. Trump may be the only one in the national leadership structure with the guts to call a halt to this foolishness. The USA is probably paying out more money to protect our military secrets and financial markets than what we receive in taxes from Smithfield Foods. The military has to constantly rework some of our weapons systems, at millions in taxpayers money, to stay ahead of the breaches in security due to cyber attacks from China.
In 2013, the year the U.S. allowed China to buy Smithfield Foods, we had a 0.71% increase in population. This produced 2.3 million added to our USA population growth. And we have one international migrant entering the U.S. every 40 seconds. What sense does it make to increase immigration with more mouths to feed, an increasing population of U.S. citizens and sell our food supply to China?
April 1, 2018 0.71% per year
July 1, 2917 0.72% per year
July 1, 2016 0.74% per year
July 1, 2015 0.74% per year
July 1, 2014 0.76% per year
July 1, 2013 0.71% per year
My wife’s nephew owns a hog farm in Columbus County. It is a million dollar plus operation. China is trying to take Smithfield Foods one step further in totally controlling our meat/food supply. They are going to our farm hog producers and trying to buy the family farm as well. Folks, we can’t get any more foolish than this, and from a source that is costing us millions in cyber attacks and millions in wasted dollars that could be going to more productive purposes to build a more prosperous nation and help our own people. We have our priorities in the wrong order. We have allowed a “Trojan Horse” to come into the USA.
Sources: 1. Chinese company to acquire Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion, May 30, 2013, N& O.
2. Report: China’s cyberattacks targeted US weapons programs, May 29, 2013, Associated Press
3. More China hacks access major U.S. weapons systems by Reuters
4. U.S. defense programs target of China cyber threat, May 29, 2013 by Lolita Baldor, AP
5. How China purchased a prime cut of America’s pork industry by Nathan Halverson, Jan. 24, 2015
6. U.S. approves purchase of Smithfield by Doug Palmer, Sept. 6, 2013