With the purchase of Smithfield Foods by WH Group, formerly Shuanghui International, a Chinese company now owns 1 in 4 pigs raised in the U.S.
That’s one of the revelations in McGraw Fellow Nate Halverson’s story, How China Purchased A Prime Cut of the US Pork Industry, published Jan. 24 by the Center for Investigative Reporting on its recently rebranded website Reveal.
Halverson spent nearly a year examining the Smithfield takeover — the biggest purchase ever of an American company by a Chinese firm — with the support of a $15,000 grant from the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
His investigation uncovered some disturbing questions about the Chinese government’s role in the deal. The story also looks more broadly at China’s growing appetite for American food and agriculture companies, and it explores concerns that it could ultimately undermine the food security of the U.S. if left unchecked.
The PBS NewsHour first ran a short two-part video series on the deal by Halverson last fall: China’s Growing Appetite for Pork. The CIR piece is a long-form narrative with lots more detailed background and context. It includes a podcast: China Brings Home the Bacon.
“Halverson was the first McGraw Fellow we picked when we started last spring,” said McGraw Center Executive Director Jane Sasseen. “We’re very proud of how the project has turned out — not just for the deep reporting and fine storytelling, but also for how well he and his colleagues at CIR have used the material to tell the story in the different formats. Hopefully, we’ll have many more like it to come.”