VIRGINIA

Smithfield Foods, Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on deal

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - U.S. lawmakers are set to weigh in on Smithfield Foods Inc.'s pending takeover by China's largest meat producer.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has set a July 10 hearing to discuss the deal struck last month with Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

The committee notice says the hearing will examine the pending purchase of the Smithfield, Va.-based company. It also will examine how the government review process of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies addresses American food safety and the effects of increased foreign ownership of the U.S. food supply.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, is expected to close in the second half of the year. It would be the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, valued at about $7.1 billion including debt.

Members of the committee have previously raised questions over the proposed deal. They also asked the Treasury Department to include both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in the government's review of the sale.

The proposed deal comes at a time when China has had serious food safety concerns, some of which have included Smithfield's suitor.

Smithfield has said the deal isn't about importing Chinese pork into the U.S. Instead, the company says it's a chance to export into new markets with its brands, such as Smithfield, Armour and Farmland.

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