Grand Forks halts project after Air Force deems Chinese company’s land purchase ‘a threat’ | National
(The Center Square) — Grand Forks, North Dakota, will deny planning permission to a China-based food manufacturer that bought land near an air force base, the mayor said Tuesday.
Chinese food manufacturer Fufeng Group announced the purchase of 370 acres of land for a wet corn mill in 2021. The site is 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base.
In a letter to U.S. Scythes Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, the USAF described the purchase of land in North Dakota by a Chinese company as “a significant threat to national security.”
The United States Committee on Foreign Investments said in December it had no authority to oppose the plant.
“Although CIFUS concluded that it has no jurisdiction, the Department’s view is unequivocal: the proposed project poses a significant threat to national security, with both short- and long-term risks of significant impact on our operations in the region.” Air Force assistant secretary for procurement, technology and logistics Andrew Hunter said in a letter to Cramer and Hoven.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said the city will also refuse to connect industrial infrastructure to the site.
“These actions will not affect land ownership as the company continues to legally own the acquired land,” Bochenski said in a statement released on the city website. “The federal government’s response during this process can only be seen as slow and inconsistent. This policy leaves open the question of other facilities with Chinese connections across the country, including Grand Forks’ Cirrus Aircraft site and Chinese students and professors from the University of North Dakota.”
Gov. Doug Burgum said the Air Force letter finally gives the state clarity.
“In light of these concerns, we support the City of Grand Forks’ decision to take steps to halt the project with Fufeng Group and will assist the city in finding another partner for a corn milling operation,” Burgum said in a release. “As our farmers who compete in global markets know, farming is a global business, and North Dakota welcomes investment from local companies and our friends and allies.”
The Fufeng purchase involved North Dakota’s southern neighbor.
The South Dakota legislature introduced invoice Tuesday establishing a United States-South Dakota Foreign Investment Committee to study purchases of agricultural land by foreign countries.
“With this new process, we will be able to prevent nations that hate us — like communist China — from buying up our state’s agricultural land,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a previous statement. “We cannot allow the Chinese Communist Party to continue buying up our country’s food supply, so South Dakota will lead the prosecution on this vital national security issue.”