3 July 2017
Johnathan Hettinger, Robert Holly, Jelter Meers, and Erin McKinstry, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Photo: Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

In 2013, the Chinese firm Shuanghui received wide public attention when it purchased U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods for a record $4.7 billion.

In an overlooked part of the deal, Shuanghui also acquired more than 146,000 acres of farmland across the United States, worth more than $500 million, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

The deal made Shuanghui, now the WH Group Limited, into one of the biggest foreign owners of U.S. agricultural land, according to an analysis of that same data.
That purchase was just a part of a continuing surge in foreign investment in American farmland and food that has raised concerns in Congress and among rural advocacy groups.