A city council in North Dakota voted unanimously on Monday to block a Chinese company’s proposed corn mill after the U.S. Air Force raised national security concerns over its proximity to a military base.
The public in attendance cheered and chanted “USA!” when the Grand Forks City Council voted unanimously 5–0 to terminate the proposal by Fufeng Group, a large Chinese agribusiness with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
The proposed mill was intended to be built on 300 acres of land owned by Fufeng Group, which is only 12 miles from a military base that houses top-secret drone technology.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski read out the motion, stating that the council’s decision to block the proposed mill was prompted by a letter (pdf) from the Air Force, sent to Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) on Jan. 27, stating that the project “presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area.”
Bochenski said the city determined that certain conditions of the company’s development agreement with the city “cannot be satisfied” and that certain representations and warranties were incorrect, and he directed the city attorney to “take all appropriate actions available and in favor of the city” under the development agreement.
Prior to the vote, Councilwoman Rebecca Osowski acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens about Fufeng’s proposal and thanked them for their support.
“I guess I will say it. Citizens, you were right, and thank you,” Osowski said to applause from members of the public in attendance. “As a citizen of Grand Forks, thank you very much.”
She also urged the city council to “look at what has been done and work together to make things right.”