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Vilsack comments on Smithfield sale

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that USDA’s role in the possible sale of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, would be in food safety.

“The proper role for us is to make sure that if the deal goes through, what is produced in this country is safe,” Vilsack told The Hagstrom Report.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in an interview aired Sunday on C-SPAN that she wanted to know whether the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration would play a role in the Treasury Department-led process of deciding whether to approve the sale.

Vilsack said that Stabenow “is in a different position” and “has responsibility for all roles.” He added that he is certain other administration officials will be asking questions about other aspects of the potential sale.

Stabenow said she is concerned that technology the U.S. taxpayers have financed for the pork industry will be part of the Smithfield deal.