Citizens in Grand Forks, North Dakota, are circulating a petition that would force a vote on a Chinese company’s plan to build a corn mill in the city.
The Fufeng Group, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, purchased the 370 acres site for a proposed $700 million corn mill. It would be located about 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Frank Matejcek’s Red River Farm is right across from the site that used to be cropland for sugar beets and soybeans.
Fufeng Group bought the land at a price of more than $26,000 per acre.
“This is 370 acres of some of the best farmland in the country. There will never be enough corn from the growers around here to facilitate that plant, ever,” Mr. Matejcek told Fox News.
Ben Grzadzielewski, another Grand Forks resident, is working with a legal team that is gathering signatures on a petition to put the Fufeng corn mill to a vote.
“In terms of Grand Forks, its water use, pollution, and smell. In terms of national, it is security. Everyone should be worried nationally about the security issues as well as locally,” he told the news outlet.
The project also caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington.
“Because of security concerns, it’d be better to find some other company to work with on the ag part,” Sen. John Hoeven, North Dakota Republican, told the Grand Forks Herald.
Sen. Mike Rounds, South Dakota Republican, introduced a law blacklisting China and other countries antagonistic to the U.S. from purchasing or acquiring agricultural businesses or land in America.
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was alarmed when a Chinese company recently purchased farmland near an Air Force base in North Dakota. This acquisition could threaten our national security by allowing the Chinese Communist Party to closely monitor the operations and communications at a very important military facility,” Mr. Rounds said in a statement.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, meanwhile, is torn between the local opposition to the plant and the promise of securing hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenues.
“Nobody is ecstatic about it being a Chinese investment. We’re patriotic. I’m a patriotic guy. I would love American companies to invest more in our country instead of investing overseas. But, you know, that’s not the environment we’re in, unfortunately,” Mr. Bochenski told Fox News.
Correction: Frank Matejcek’s last name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.