GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA, US — The mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota, US, wants to stop construction of a wet corn milling plant that a China-based company was looking to build within 12 miles of a US air force base.
Mayor Brandon Bochenski said on Jan. 31 he is asking the city to refuse to connect industrial infrastructure and deny building permits for the Fufeng project.
The request comes after the US Air Force sent a letter to US Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven saying that the proposed project, “presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area.”
Fufeng USA is a subsidiary of Fufeng Group Ltd., which is based in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China. The company wants to build a wet corn mill on a 370-acre greenfield site and produce amino acids, lysine and threonine, which are ingredients in animal nutrition feed formulations. It is within 12 miles of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is a center of military activities related to air and space operations.
Fufeng USA declined to comment on the Grand Forks project when contacted by World Grain.
In October, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States said that acquisition of the property by Fufeng was not within its jurisdiction.
Bochenski said the response from the government has been “slow and contradictory.” The federal government has now “requested the city’s help in stopping the project as geo-political tensions have greatly increased since the initial announcement of the project.”
Any actions by the city would need approval by the council and will not affect the land ownership.
Governor Doug Burgum said in a statement that he supports the city in stopping the project and will work with it to find another partner for a corn milling operation.
“We joined city leaders in asking the federal government for clarity on any national security implications related to the Fufeng project, and now we finally have that clarity,” he said. “The state of North Dakota stands ready to assist the city in exploring additional opportunities for value-added agriculture. As our farmers who compete in global markets know, agriculture is a global business, and North Dakota welcomes investment from domestic companies and our friends and allies.”
Senators Hoeven and Cramer said they believe the city should discontinue the project and they can instead work together “to find an American company to develop the agriculture project.”