Despite the economic saber rattling, most contend the sale will go through as planned sometime this fall.

Among those concerned over the sale are grain producers in the Upper Southeast. Through their wholly owned subsidiary, Murphy-Brown, the company has been an active buyer of grain grown in the Southeast.

For the past two years Murphy-Brown has aggressively purchased grain for Smithfield in an attempt to offset high shipping costs of corn from the Midwest to pork facilities in the Southeast. Officials at both Murphy-Brown and Smithfield contend there will be no interruption of grain buying by the company once Chinese owners take over.

However, employees at the Warsaw, N.C.,-based company contend no information concerning the day-to-day operation of the grain buying arm of Smithfield has been discussed with employees.

That takeover is of great concern to many, including Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. After the news of the CFIUS decision on Friday, DeLauro wrote, “I am deeply troubled by the decision to approve this merger and have serious concerns over the negative long-term ramifications of this deal.

The Congresswoman cited concerns about the short- and long-term ability of the U.S. to protect intellectual property rights and the safety and security of the U.S. food supply system. DeLauro said legislation "may be necessary to ensure these issues are taken into account in the future."

One of the biggest concerns coming from a number of fronts is the dismal human health record of Shuanghui Internationals swine facilities.

Derek Scissors, who represents Heritage Foundation, says, “There still is a question if the Chinese know how to operate in the U.S. regulatory environment. It’s not that they want to screw it up, but do they know what they’re doing?”

“New rules implemented by the Chinese related to safety and technological developments within the company may be a trip-switch for U.S. regulators to watch,” he says. “I would watch employee turnover in the technical fields. New rules (imposed by Shuanghui) could push them out,” he adds.

rroberson@farmpress.com