Abattoir No More.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is, as anyone reading here knows, a great fan of pork. If you follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter (@maximumleader) you would be able to follow is (nearly) annual trek to buy the Easter ham. This is his pilgrimage called Hamquest. (You can see his Hamquest here.) On Hamquest your Maximum Leader leaves his home and travels to Smithfield, VA to get the ham he will serve up at Easter. Smithfield, VA is the Pork Capital of Virginia. And the eponymous company based there, Smithfield Foods, is one of the largest pork producers in the world.

Well, there is news from Smithfield. The headline says it all: Smithfield Foods stops slaughtering pigs at U.S. hometown plant. Here is some of the piece:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, has stopped slaughtering pigs in the United States’ so-called ham capital, where the company was founded 85 years ago.

The end of slaughtering in Smithfield, Virginia, is the latest reconfiguration for the company’s namesake plant and follows a months-long internal review of its East Coast operations, Smithfield Foods said in a statement.

The company, owned by Hong Kong-listed WH Group, is shifting slaughtering to some of its 47 other U.S. facilities and spending $5 million to upgrade the Virginia plant to produce more packaged bacon, ham and other pork products, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.

Smithfield, Virginia, is a tourist destination based on its history as Smithfield Foods’ hometown and boasts a museum featuring the world’s oldest ham.

This is sad news. But at least Smithfield Foods isn’t leaving Smithfield…

There is that fun line in there about Smithfield Foods being owned by a Hong Kong listed (aka: Chinese) firm. Your Maximum Leader has known a number of people who were quite bent out of shape when WH Group bought controlling interest in Smithfield Foods. There was a lot of discussion that seemed to center on how the Chinese were going to take over the pork market. Your Maximum Leader, while leery of China broadly, is quite sanguine in this matter. It is sort of like the “scare” that dominated our national consciousness in the late 80’s and early 90’s about how the Japanese were buying everything and were going to “own America.” That scare was just that, a scare. Is the situation with Chinese-owned US firms the same? No. They aren’t the same. But are they analogous? Probably. The Chinese can’t pack up Smithfield Foods and all of its pig farms and processing plants and move them to China. And shutting down the business defeats the purpose of owning the business. So if there is a nefarious plot afoot, it is quite subtle.


It is a little sad to think that Smithfield, VA may not actually be the Pork Capital of VA. But it remains Smithfield and your Maximum Leader will continue to go and get hams from there for as long as it is possible to do so.

Carry on.

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