Smithfield Purchase Stirs Discussion At World Pork Expo

Iowa Farm Scene

U.S. pork producers cite opportunity to export more pork to China, but concerns remain.

Published on: June 10, 2013

The Smithfield deal must still be approved by shareholders and by regulators, including the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment. The Smithfield deal isn't expected to close until sometime this fall.

Visitors from Hebei would like to cooperate with Iowa leaders on building an ag research center in China

The visit to the World Pork Expo by the Chinese ag officials from Hebei also brought out other opportunities for Iowa. The Chinese officials repeatedly asked Iowa companies to consider sharing technology and providing investment. The Chinese met with Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and others about an animal husbandry research center possibly being built in Hebei.

Jay Johnson, Iowa deputy ag secretary, says officials agreed to work on a memorandum of understanding to cooperate. He says the idea is still vague, but it could include training on breeding and management of dairy and swine herds. His impression is that Hebei officials are under pressure to do more of these cooperative endeavors with U.S. organizations -- government as well as private.

But how to do business in China without giving up trade secrets remains a question for American companies, note Riley and Halstead, the two Feed Energy Company officials. Many American firms are frustrated and leery of the limited intellectual property protections in China, for example. Chinese hackers are known for pirating U.S. software and other technology. That was a key point of discussion between President Obama and China's new president Xi Jinping at their recent meeting June 7 in California.