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Smithfield Embodies China’s Record Hunger for Farms: Commodities

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On a sunny March afternoon, 11 Chinese executives armed with digital cameras and iPads got out of a van on Brazil’s highway BR-163 to photograph soybean-loaded trucks headed to export terminals in the south.

Dressed in polo shirts, jeans and boots, the officials from five state-owned companies that imported 40 percent of China’s soybeans last year, had traveled six hours to see the oilseed being moved from farms to ports during a tour organized by Rabobank Groep. They’re part of a growing Chinese contingent that’s scouring the world for farm assets or food technologies that can be brought to the world’s most-populous nation.