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Syngenta : Sen. Brown Calls for National Security Review of Brazilian Acquisition of U.S. Beef Company

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04/26/2018 | 01:33pm CEST

WASHINGTON, April 24 -- The office of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, issued the following news release:

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senate Agriculture Committee members to urge the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the proposed purchase of National Beef Packing Co. by a Brazilian meat company.

Earlier this year, Brown joined Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to introduce bipartisan legislation to review foreign investments (https://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/brown-introduces-bipartisan-bill-to-make-sure-foreign-investments-dont-hurt-us-economy-jobs) in the United States to ensure they are in the long-term economic interests of the U.S. Recent patterns of foreign investment in the U.S. have raised concerns that overseas competitors, including state-owned enterprises, are pursuing investments to make strategic gains in the U.S. market or to benefit their own domestic industries. No current mechanism allows the U.S. government to evaluate foreign investment for its long-term economic benefit to the U.S. The Senators' bill would require a review of certain foreign investments to determine if they are in the economic interest of the U.S., not a foreign individual or foreign government.

"The security, safety, and resiliency of our food system is integral to the overall security of our nation," wrote the Senators. "In light of recent acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies such as Smithfield by Shuanghui in 2013 and the acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina in 2016, it has become increasingly clear that growing foreign investment in U.S. agriculture requires a thorough review process to safeguard the American food system."

On April 9, Brazil's Marfrig Global Foods SA announced its intent to purchase a majority stake in the Missouri-based National Beef Packing Co., which is the fourth largest processor of U.S. beef. The proposed aquisition follows a 2017 corruption scandal in Brazil's food safety system that revealed unacceptable safety and quality issues with Brazilian beef intended for the American market, including shipments from Marfrig. These issues ultimately resulted in the U.S. completely halting imports of fresh beef from Brazil.

The Senators also asked the Treasury Department to include both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in CFIUS reviews of foreign acquisitions of major U.S. agriculture assets.

Brown was joined on the letter by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Full text of the letter is included below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

As members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, we write to you regarding the proposed purchase of a majority stake in National Beef Packing Co. LLC, a beef processing company based in Kansas City, Missouri and the fourth largest beef processor in the United States, by Marfrig Global Foods SA, a Brazilian meat processing and distribution company.

The security, safety, and resiliency of our food system is integral to the overall security of our nation. In light of recent acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies such as Smithfield by Shuanghui in 2013 and the acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina in 2016, it has become increasingly clear that growing foreign investment in U.S. agriculture requires a thorough review process to safeguard the American food system.

As such, we respectfully request that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), chaired by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, exercise its authority to review this transaction to assess any potential ramifications the transaction may have on the security and safety of our food supply, and by extension, our nation. Other recent acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies have undergone similar reviews by CFIUS.

While this Committee has not reached any conclusions regarding the proposed purchase of National Beef by Marfrig, any foreign acquisition of an important U.S. agricultural asset should be reviewed closely for potential risks to our food system. For instance, we are concerned that this proposed transaction comes following the 2017 corruption scandal in Brazil's food safety system that revealed unacceptable safety and quality issues with Brazilian beef intended for the American market, including shipments from Marfrig. These issues ultimately resulted in the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service completely halting imports of fresh beef products from Brazil in June 2017.

Additionally, CFIUS does not formally include the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its current review process. As USDA and FDA are the primary divisions of the federal government tasked with overseeing our food and agriculture sectors, we ask that you include representation from these departments in reviewing this foreign investment and any other transactions involving critical U.S. agricultural assets.

The increasing trend of foreign investment in our food system should be met with careful scrutiny from the relevant experts in order to safeguard the security of our nation's food supply.

Thank you for your consideration and your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

© 2018 Targeted News Service, source News Service

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MARFRIG GLOBAL FOODS 0.00% 7.87 End-of-day quote.11.75%
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