JBS USA responds to call by U.S. senators for investigation into meatpacking plant’s practices | TheFencePost.com

JBS USA responds to call by U.S. senators for investigation into meatpacking plant’s practices

Bobby Fernandez
for The Greeley Tribune

An international meat-processing conglomerate whose U.S. subsidiary is based in Greeley, Colo., said it intends to cooperate with any probes resulting from a bipartisan request for a review to its transactions.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., penned a letter on Oct. 8 to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin asking the Committee of Foreign Investment in the U.S. to formally open a review of JBS S.A., the Brazilian meat-processing conglomerate.

Nikki Richardson, spokesperson for JBS USA — JBS S.A.’s Greeley-based U.S. subsidiary — sent a statement on Oct. 11, responding to the Greeley Tribune’s request for comment on the senators’ letter.

“JBS S.A. is aware of the letter sent to Secretary Mnuchin,” the statement reads. “The company has fully cooperated with all relevant authorities in a transparent manner regarding past events in Brazil. The company will continue to cooperate and respond to any subsequent inquiries.”

The statement goes on to read, “JBS USA is an important American employer, providing more than 60,000 jobs and partnering with more than 11,000 U.S. farmers, ranchers and poultry producers. The company plays a critical role in U.S. agricultural communities, creating opportunities for rural family farmers and ranchers who depend on our business to transform their livestock and poultry into products that consumers trust and enjoy.”

JBS S.A. has become increasingly active in the American food sector during the past dozen years.

In 2007, JBS S.A. established JBS USA, which purchased Greeley-based Swift Foods Co. In 2008, it acquired the beef-processing operations of Smithfield Foods. Then in 2009, JBS USA obtained the majority of the poultry processing operations of Pilgrim’s Pride.

However, as JBS S.A. moved into the U.S. market, it engaged in illicit financial activities, including bribing Brazilian government officials and the business relationships with the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, according to the senators.

“Given its admitted criminal conduct to secure loans that were used for investment in the United States and the group’s business relationships with Venezuela’s Maduro regime, as well as its growing reliance on financing from entities aligned with the Chinese government, we ask that CFIUS conduct a review of JBS S.A.’s acquisition of U.S. companies,” Rubio’s and Menendez’s letter said. “The growing trend of foreign investment in our food system demands increased attention and scrutiny in order to safeguard our nation’s food supply.”

The day after the letter was delivered, Angela Huffman, communications and research director for the Organization for Competitive Markets, said in a statement, “The corrupt actions of JBS demonstrate the epitome of unchecked monopoly power. JBS should be stripped of all its U.S. assets. No one should profit from illegal activity. We thank Senators Rubio and Menendez for their courageous action in taking on the largest meatpacker in the world.”

To read Rubio’s and Menendez’s full letter, go to https://bit.ly/2MaHx3j. ❖

— Bobby Fernandez covers growth and development for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at bfernandez@greeleytribune.com, (970) 392-4478 or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez