Locals In North Dakota Oppose Massive Corn Mill Project By Chinese Company
Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
One by one, residents opposed to a corn mill investment by a Chinese company with reputed ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through its chairman, got up to chastise the mayor and city council of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
“You guys are the scariest people I know. You are willing to endanger this city, the people, the country, and this nation,” said Dennis Kadlec, an outspoken critic of the project.
A sign opposing a corn mill in Grand Forks, N.D., stands near 370 acres recently annexed by the city for the project. Many residents don’t want the project in the city because the owner, Fufeng Group, has reputed ties to the Chinese Communist Party through its company chairman. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)
He believes city officials have ignored residents’ concerns over the project and the flag they serve.
“This is a republic. Please treat it as such,” Kadlec said.
Jodi Carlson is lead organizer of the Concerned Citizens for Fufeng Project, a non-partisan grass roots group that opposes the increases presence of Chinese-owned businesses in Grand Forks, N.D. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)
Kadlec’s accusations of inaction and secrecy on the part of city officials seemed to resonate with other concerned citizens at the city council meeting on Sept. 6.
The group views the corn mill as a potential Chinese spying operation and a threat to the environment and municipal resources.
Some residents see divisions over the project worsening in a close-knit agricultural community of 56,000, where sugar beets and wheat—not corn—are king.
The city of Grand Forks is not a significant producer of corn, either, straddling the Minnesota border about 75 miles south of Canada, where winter temperatures can drop to well below zero.
So the question arises: why would a Chinese company build a corn mill in Grand Forks when harvest volumes are so low?
Critics who fear Chinese espionage say one needs to look no further than Grand Forks Air Force Base, about 12 miles away. The base stores and tests the military’s sensitive drone, satellite, and surveillance technology.
However, city officials supporting the corn mill see the project as an economic opportunity too good to pass up. As the most significant single capital investment in the city’s history, it promises 230 permanent high-paying jobs, higher corn prices for regional growers, and other long-term benefits.
Fufeng USA, the American subsidiary of Fufeng Group, wants to build on 370 acres it acquired that would add millions in sales and property tax revenues and improve city infrastructure.
The “wet corn” mill would employ thousands of workers during construction and, in operation, extract ingredients used to produce animal feed products for sale in the domestic market.
At least on paper, the project looks and sounds good.
What doesn’t sit well with project opponents is the parent company, Fufeng Group, which is based in Shandong Province in China. The company has reputed links with the CCP through its chairman and controlling shareholder, Li Xuechun.
Many residents opposed to the corn mill also feel the city has been translucent in moving the project along, voting to annex land without proper notice to business abutters to sell to Fufeng USA.
Some residents have felt so neglected by the local powers that Jodi Carlson and several others recently formed the Concerned Citizens of Fufeng Project in Grand Forks.
The public group has nearly 3,000 followers on Facebook and vehemently opposes the corn mill project.
Group meetings have become “very contentious,” Carlson told The Epoch Times, “primarily because we’re just tired. The city council continues to say they’ve answered our questions and haven’t. We still have a lot of questions.”
One question is what Fufeng USA plans to do with 250 acres not listed in the development plan, Carlson said.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with that. We think we have a right [to know], especially since it’s a foreign interest. We don’t think [the city council] vetted it properly. We have a lot of concerns.”
Two U.S. Senators representing North Dakota have raised alarm bells over potential national security issues surrounding the Fufeng USA project amid building tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan.
City officials reportedly vowed to stop the project should China invade Taiwan.
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Thu, 09/15/2022 – 19:00