SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) - Smithfield's multi-billion dollar deal has been approved by the boards of both companies, but one Virginia lawmaker is speaking out about his concerns.
The deal still needs support of Smithfield shareholders and a U.S. Treasury Department committee. If they feel as passionately about the concerns Del. Robert Marshall has, the deal is in trouble.
"This is going to cost jobs for Virginians, this is going to cost in health, this is going to cost public confidence," Marshall told WAVY.com.
He said the deal would have significant impact on customers across the U.S. and as a result, he sent a letter to Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope as well as several lawmakers, including Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine. Marshall said his chief concern is the safety of potential buyers of Smithfield products in the future under the new ownership.
"The company that wants to buy them, the Chinese company, has a deplorable record for safety and processing," Marshall said. "I would not buy one pork chop from these people."
He said he's beside himself that an American company would do this, and was angered even more by what he sees as inside benefits for only a few top executives at Smithfield Foods.
"Mr. Pope lost a significant amount of money because of the performance of the company under him that dropped, yet he's the one who gets a huge benefits package."
And while the deal may very well help those at the top, Marshall says it's not just the American people, but Smithfield workers who will pay in the end.
"Who wants to buy food from a company with a sloppy safety record? If you love your kids, you won't chance it. A lot of people will lose their jobs because of this."
The government panel that will review the deal is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Their job is to assess national security risks.
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