Chinese Spies: License to Mill

Jul 12, 2022

China has invaded North Dakota. (At least that’s how some folks see it.)

Foreign investment: Fufeng Group, a Chinese conglomerate that manufactures sugar substitutes and flavor enhancers, recently purchased 300+ acres of farmland near Grand Forks, ND for a cool $2.6M. There, it plans to build a $700M corn wet milling plant with a 25M bushel capacity.

Several community members, including the city’s mayor, are pretty stoked about the project, citing the 200+ direct jobs it will provide.

But not everyone’s fortune cookie is so… um… optimistic.

Northern Plains Showdown: As spring 2023 construction plans tentatively move forward, influential voices across the country are focused on the property’s neighbor.

The Grand Forks Air Force Base, home to some of the nation’s most sensitive drone technology, is only 12 miles from the proposed plant.

Although it’s not the USAF’s official position, a memo from Major Jeremy Fox cited concerns about passive surveillance that could be housed in the Chinese-controlled facility:

“This introduces a grave vulnerability… and is incredibly compromising to U.S. National Security.”

(Cue the ominous music.)

PASS it: Reps in the U.S. House are drumming up support for the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act. Among other things, the bill would ban China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea from buying U.S. ag companies, plus list ag and ag biotech as “critical infrastructure.”

Where this goes: The jury’s still out on what the future will bring, but when agriculture, national security, and capitalism all merge in the Peace Garden State we can all agree on one thing—this is federalism at its “best.”