North Dakota taxpayers foot Chinese expansion near USAF Base

The Fufeng Group, located in mainland China, is a global-leader in bio-fermentation and manufacturing products that serve animal nutrition, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, health and wellness, oil & gas, and other industries. In November 2021, Fufeng Group Ltd. selected Grand Forks, North Dakota as its first U.S. manufacturing site.  

According to the city of Grand Forks, the site will require 370 acres in Grand Forks’ agribusiness park and 25 bushels of corn each year. The corn-milling facility may bring trucking traffic and plant odors but will boost regional corn demand and bring hundreds of new jobs to the city.  

That a China-based bio-fermentation products maker is coming to the United States is being touted as a win for the local economy, but there’s growing concern over its national security implications and potential ties to forced labor.

Grand Forks’ Local Government Advisory Committee met at City Hall has expressed support for big tax breaks which would eliminate the majority of Fufeng Group’s early property tax bill and discount costs on the plant for the first 20 years. City Hall leaders argue these tax breaks are an essential incentive to attract Fufeng Group to the community, where their wet corn milling plant would create hundreds of jobs.

Not everyone is keen. Senator Kevin Cramer, expressed his suspicions of Fufeng Group stating China is not a reliable partner and the project in Grand Forks requires due diligence. University of North Dakota economist, David Flynn, suggests Fufeng Group ties the local economy and local jobs to China, and North Dakota’s economy could experience pressure if China talks about changing corn-buying practices.

Ross Kennedy, founder of Fortis Analysis and Senior Fellow at Securities Studies Group describes the proposed project as a “very worrisome thing”. Listen here. Read here.

In an interview with WDAY Radio, Kennedy asserted the proximity of the proposed processing plant to the U.S. Air Force in Grand Forks and other sensitive military sites in the region would create a security risk by allowing the Chinese government to potentially use the site as a base of operations to spy on and monitor U.S. military activity in the area.

“Even the people local to Grand Forks may not know how important this base is.  It’s not some no-nothing base that has survived all the base closures and realignments over the years.  Grand Forks is home to one of the largest intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance wings we have anywhere in the world. I can’t think of a lot of red-blooded Americans that would be okay with their town being used potentially as an installation to monitor the comings and goings of an air force base,” said Kennedy. 

The new plant is estimated to consume 25,000,000 bushels of corn for less than one hundred jobs – 250,000 bushels (or 14,000,000 pounds) of American corn per year, per job. Moreover, the Grand Forks City Council and CCP-favorite Governor Burgum are promising to build and subsidize a $150 million natural gas pipeline, and will spend an additional tens of millions of dollars to subsidize construction of Fufeng’s new plant. Fufeng Group will also be offered a “temporary” tax break for years (or decades) to come. Rather than boosting the local economy, the plant will be leeching from it.

Kennedy also asserts that Fufeng Group’s founder and chairman Li Xuechun has direct to ties to the CCP, or the Chinese Communist Party. 

“In 2003 he was elected to the Shandong People’s Congress which is essentially quote unquote a state legislature which is basically a rubber stamp for the National People’s Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Kennedy. 

In the interview with WDAY, Kennedy also discussed Governor Doug Burgum’s role in trade between North Dakota and China, and asserted how the plant, if given final approval, will play a critical role in China’s long-term food security.