NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The proposed Chinese Fufeng corn milling plant near the Grand Forks Air Force Base is back in the national spotlight.
This week, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, introduced legislation that would blacklist China, and other foreign adversaries from purchasing or acquiring U.S. land or businesses involved in agriculture.
In Senator Rounds’ press release for the bill, he wrote, quote:
“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.”
Senator Kevin Cramer is the only member of North Dakota’s Congressional delegation that has taken a stance on the Fufeng Project, he’s come out strongly against it.
KX News’ Josh Meny spoke with the Senator about whether he would co-sponsor South Dakota U.S. Senator Mike Rounds’ bill.
“Yeah, there’s a good chance I would be a co-sponsor of the bill. I have not talked to Mike about it, but I have talked to a lot of members about the general issue,” said Senator Cramer.
The Fufeng USA Project in Grand Forks has become a watershed moment for the nation, the project has been discussed by countless political pundits in a flurry of cable news interviews over the past month.
“I have had Republican and Democrat members of the Senate come up to me and actually offer to introduce legislation,” said Sen. Cramer.
In addition to Senator Rounds’ legislation, Senators Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, and Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama, introduced separate legislation to prohibit China-controlled companies from buying land in the U.S.
Cotton and Tuberville cited the Fufeng project in Grand Forks as the impetus for their legislation as well.
With all of these out-of-state lawmakers writing legislation aimed at something going on in our state, why are our lawmakers, here in North Dakota, not taking direct action?
“I believe this is a local decision. It is a local decision. It’s a state decision. And, I think interfering so directly with legislation, without working with the state, is probably not the right idea,” said Sen. Cramer.
At the local level, a grassroots organization, People for the Vote LLC, filed a petition to get the Fufeng project put to a citywide vote
The city disqualified the petition even though the organization garnered well over the needed number of signatures.
“We filed a petition following the home role charter of Grand Forks, and they denied our petition and to not give us the right to vote, so we took them to court to try and earn that right back,” said Ben Grzadzielewski from People for the Vote LLC.
The hearing was on Thursday. They had to hold it in Devils Lake because all of the local counsel in Grand Forks had to recuse themselves.
“We followed their rules, we did the petition, we had far more signatures than needed. And, they still found a way to deny our rights. It just really felt like they really didn’t want to have this project go to vote. So they figured out a way to try it to get denied. So we brought it to court, and our attorney made very fantastic arguments on our behalf, and we felt that we won the case,” said Grzadzielewski.
In the meantime, Cramer says the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. review of the Fufeng project is underway and the initial results should come out in September.
The outcome of the project could ultimately be decided by President Joe Biden.
KX News has reached out to the Grand Forks Mayor’s Office and City Hall and they have not responded yet.
Here is Senator Mike Rounds’ PASS Act, released on Thursday.
Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) Friday introduced the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing any land in the United States.