"This is an opportunity to grow. We as an industry have struggled with growth in this country. Americans are eating less pork than they were 15 years ago, so without the opportunity to grow outside of the United States, there is no opportunity for the U.S. pork producer to expand," Pope said.
But Sen. Mike Johanns brought up the concerns of some of his constituents that control remains an issue, noting that if the situation was reversed, a U.S. company could not buy up a Chinese company.
"The Chinese regulators would laugh at you if you said, 'I'll just buy Shuanghui.' And to us, that is just very difficult," Johanns said.
But Pope clarified that regardless of ownership, USDA and Smithfield have strong food safety priorities and will protect the brand.
"This is a highly regulated industry," Pope said. "That's why people around the world take such comfort in the USDA stamp on products that they receive. And they will continue to have that assurance on anything, regardless of where the ownership is."
"I don't expect there to be a significant impact on our U.S. consumers," Pope noted.
The deal is under continuing review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. The hearing comes after Stabenow last month asked the Secretary of the Treasury to include the USDA and FDA in the review process, noting its potential food security and economic implications.
An archived webcast of the hearing, can be viewed at ag.senate.gov.