From left: Amanda Pike, Sharon Tiller, David Ritsher, Mia Zuckerkandel and Nathan Halverson were part of The Center for Investigative Reporting team that produced the story on the Chinese takeover of America’s biggest pork producer.Credit: Reveal staff

The Center for Investigative Reporting won a News and Documentary Emmy Award Monday night in New York City for an exposé of the Chinese takeover of America’s biggest pork producer. The award, for Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast, is shared with our partners on the piece, PBS NewsHour.

“Who’s behind the Chinese takeover of world’s biggest pork producer?” examined the $7.1 billion acquisition of Smithfield Foods, the iconic ham brand, by Shuanghui International. China now owns 1 in 4 pigs raised in the U.S.

The deal came two years after China’s communist government issued an edict directing its food industry to scour the globe in search of agricultural resources, prompting concerns about the government’s role in the takeover. The CIR report, which aired Sept. 12, 2014, on PBS NewsHour, shined new light on the growing concern that China’s expansion into the American food market, if unchecked, could ultimately undermine the food security of the United States.

The Center for Investigative Reporting also played a role in “Diving into the Philippines’ dangerous underwater mines,” which was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast. The PBS NewsHour piece was reported by a team that included then-CIR journalist Richard C. Paddock.

For the China pork story, reporter Nathan Halverson spent more than four months digging into the deal in an investigation that spanned the globe – from the small, picturesque town of Smithfield, Virginia, the self-described “ham capital of the world,” to the bustling streets of Luohe, China, where pork is so central to the culture that the Chinese character for “home” is signified by a pig under a roof.

Along the way, Halverson gained unprecedented access to Shuanghui’s operations and management personnel in China and exclusive interviews with major players in the deal and with American lawmakers. He discovered Shuanghui documents in the Cayman Islands that showed the company’s controlling shareholders, found documentation from the Bank of China that highlighted the government’s involvement, and uncovered Shuanghui’s marketing materials that spelled out the company’s fidelity to government leaders.

Together, the documents proved that the U.S. Congress was misled about whether the Chinese company was controlled by the Communist Party.

In accepting the award Monday, Halverson – who began his career as a newspaper reporter – noted the story was his first stint as a producer. “Obviously, there were a lot of talented people working behind me,” he said.

The piece was reported by Halverson and produced by Halverson and Amanda Pike. Sharon Tiller was the executive producer of the story. Mia Zuckerkandel was the senior producer, Andrew Donohue was the senior content editor, Scott Anger was the director of photography and David Ritsher was the video editor.

For PBS NewsHour, the executive producer was Linda Winslow. Justin Kenny was the foreign affairs and defense editor and Murrey Jacobson was the national affairs editor.

Here’s the link to CIR’s report on our website:

https://revealnews.org/article-legacy/how-americas-pigs-became-chinas-pork/

For more information on the story, here’s a link to Halverson’s article about  his reporting:

https://revealnews.org/article/how-china-purchased-a-prime-cut-of-americas-pork-industry/

Here’s a link to a podcast for CIR’s Reveal radio program and an interview with Halverson:

https://revealnews.org/episodes/china-brings-home-the-bacon-with-americas-pigs/#segment-this-little-piggy-went-to-china