North Dakota residents are attempting to keep a company allegedly affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party from building a corn mill in their state, suspiciously far from supplies of the crop, some say, but extremely close to a U.S. Air Force base.
Chinese manufacturer Fufeng USA, which makes food for animals, according to the Grand Forks, North Dakota, city website, has purchased a 370-acre site with plans to build a $700 million corn mill, Fox News reported.
Yet state and local officials say the company had ties to the CCP, according to Fox, and it all has the local community concerned.
First and foremost, the site is just 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
The base houses top secret drone technology, Fox News reported. For that reason, many citizens believe the possible presence of a Chinese company could present a national security threat.
Ben Grzadzielewski, a Grand Forks resident who is working with a legal team seeking to stop the project, laid out other concerns for the local community.
“In terms of Grand Forks, its water use, pollution, and smell,” Grzadzielewski told Fox News. “In terms of national, it is security.
“Everyone should be worried nationally about the security issues as well as locally.”
Citizens from the community are attempting to collect signatures for a petition to try to bring the proposed corn mill to a vote, according to Fox. In addition, they are suing the city of Grand Forks to stop the project.
I’m not going to say that economic development isn’t a good thing,” Grzadzielewski said. “But at what cost?”
Security threats and pollution concerns are not the only factors calling the proposed corn mill into question.
The Chinese company offered more than $26,000 an acre
Frank Matejecks, who owns Red River Angus Farm just across from the 370-acre site Fufeng purchased, told Fox there was another detail about the deal that doesn’t look right.
“There will never be enough corn from the growers around here to facilitate that plant, ever,” Matejeck told Fox News.
While Matejeck said the land Fufeng purchased was “some of the best farmland in the country,” he added the land did not include an abundance of corn crops, making the decision to build a corn mill there questionable.
Before Fufeng purchased the land, it was owned by three local farmers, Fox News reported. They were not trying to sell the property at the time, but the Chinese company offered more than $26,000 an acre, which was significantly more than the average price according to Fox News.
Community members have put out yard signs condemning the Fufeng’s plans, and some have even spoken out against the proposed deal at local council meetings.
“This is crazy,” a citizen said a recent meeting according to Fox News. “You people want to bring communist China to Grand Forks. They kill people in communist China.”
The battle against the proposal extends to Washington, D.C.
North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is against the deal.
“The China of today is not the China of decades ago,” Cramer said. “China has demonstrated real aggression.”
On the Senate Intelligence Committee, both Chairman Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, and ranking Republican Sen. Marco Rubio oppose the deal, according to CNBC.
Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican, has introduced a bill that would prevent companies affiliated with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from buying American farmland, according to the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Issues that even have the potential to unite Republicans and Democrats in Washington are few and far between these days, underscoring just how broad the opposition to the Grand Forks plan is.
And with good reason.
The community around Grand Forks is right to be fighting.
And the rest of the country should be paying attention.