(NewsNation) — Officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota, will meet Monday to discuss a controversial corn milling plant proposal, which has ties to China and recently met opposition from the U.S. Air Force.
In a Jan. 27 letter to two U.S. North Dakota senators, an Air Force official said the project “presents a significant threat to national security.”
The letter is dated just one day before a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was first spotted flying above America’s Midwest. There is no known connection between the balloon, which was shot down Saturday, and the proposed North Dakota corn mill.
Pentagon officials detail ‘debris field’ after balloon’s downing
The Grand Forks project has been a point of contention for its ties to a Chinese company since it was first proposed in 2021. The group seeking to develop the plant, Fufeng USA, manufactures animal feed products.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Fufeng USA is a subsidiary of the Jinan, China-based company Fufeng Group Limited. It selected Grand Forks for its first wet corn mill processing plant in the U.S., according to the city’s website.
Those who favored the project hoped it would bring jobs and money to Grand Forks, which has a population of less than 59,000.
Although the project has been a topic of local discussion for the past two years, it only recently received official opposition from the Air Force. Notably, the Grand Forks Air Force Base is situated about 12 miles from the proposed milling site.
“…The Department’s view is unambiguous: the proposed project presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operation,” Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Andrew Hunter wrote in the Jan. 27 letter.
The Air Force’s opinion might be too late, however. Fufeng already owns the land, which encompasses 370 acres. The city’s local newspaper, Grand Forks Herald, reported that Mayor Brandon Bochenski now is seeking ways to stop the project.
Greater Idaho: Counties in Eastern Oregon push to secede
In a joint statement from U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Sen U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), whom the letter referenced. the politicians asked the city to discontinue the Fufeng operation. Instead, they said Grand Forks should find “an American company to develop the agriculture project.”
“City leaders have asked for clarity from leaders in the federal government regarding the Fufeng project,” the joint statement read. “The Air Force left ambiguity off the table…”