Air Force position kills Chinese corn plant as foreign ownership concern rises |

Air Force position kills Chinese corn plant as foreign ownership concern rises

An Air Force statement that a corn milling plant to be built by a Chinese company near an air base in Grand Forks, N.D., would be a threat to national security has resulted in the $700 million project being killed, DTN/The Progressive Farmer reported today, Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are expressing increasing concern about Chinese involvement in American agriculture.

In a letter released by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., an Air Force official noted that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) said it did not have jurisdiction over the matter, but that the Air Force said the project posed both short-term and long-term risks to national security.

Local officials had promoted the project for economic development reasons, but both the mayor of Grand Forks and the governor of North Dakota have said the project will not go forward, DTN said.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today she was unaware of the Grand Forks situation but that she believes the Agriculture Department should be involved in the CFIUS interagency process. Stabenow had raised questions about the sale of Smithfield, a meat company, to the Chinese some years ago, but said today she has no evidence of problems since that sale.


Today, bipartisan coalitions of House members and senators introduced a bill that would prohibit China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from purchasing U.S. agricultural land and agricultural companies, and make the Agriculture secretary a standing member of CFIUS.

Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and Sens. John Tester, D-Mont., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., introduced the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act.

“Food is a national security issue. Increasing foreign ownership of American farms and farmland is a threat to our food security,” said Costa. “We need to prevent foreign adversaries like China and Iran from undermining the American agricultural industry. We introduced this legislation to ensure American agriculture is operated by American businesses.”

The Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota, John Thune of South Dakota and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.

On Monday, Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young asking them to prioritize funding to improve transparency in foreign investments in American agricultural land.

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