One of America’s largest pork producers eligible for payments under President Donald Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout — necessitated by the president’s trade war with China — is owned by a Chinese firm, according to The Washington Post.
> Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based pork producer acquired in 2013 by a Chinese conglomerate now named WH Group, can apply for federal money under the bailout program created this summer, said Agriculture Department spokesman Carl E. Purvis.
> JBS, a subsidiary of a Brazilian company by the same name, is also eligible to apply for the federal money. The two companies are the biggest pork producers in the United States, according to the National Pork Board, a quasi-government agency.
Part of the administration’s bailout includes purchasing $1.2 billion of surplus food from American farmers, $560 million of which would go toward buying pork, in an effort to offset retaliatory tariffs from China.
> But the possibility of money flowing to foreign-owned businesses underscores the difficulty of trying to craft government programs that benefit only domestic firms. The international reach of companies makes it hard to ensure that federal dollars stay in U.S. hands, regardless of their intended target.
> The bailout program has also angered smaller hog producers, who expressed frustration that it appears likely to help large, international farms that already dominate the U.S. pork market.
> “It’s just going to help the big boys, like JBS and Smithfield,” said Chris Petersen, 63, who owns a few hundred hogs on a farm in north-central Iowa. “I’m very concerned because of the political power and the power of money and big corporations. The taxpayers should be up in arms over this.”
According to The Post, WH Group’s American operations account for about 60 percent of its overall revenue and nearly half its profits.