Following Fufeng uproar, bill would bar foreign governments from buying ag land in North Dakota
Rep. Larry Klemin, R-Bismarck, the lead sponsor of House Bill 1135, said he decided to sponsor the bill after several constituents raised concerns about Fufeng's Chinese ties
BISMARCK — A bill introduced in the North Dakota House would ban foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land in the state.
The bill comes after many state lawmakers raised concerns about the Fufeng wet corn milling plant proposed to be built in Grand Forks. The company has ties to China but is privately owned.
Rep. Larry Klemin, R-Bismarck, said he decided to sponsor House Bill 1135 after several constituents raised concerns about Fufeng's Chinese ties.
If it becomes law, the legislation would bar a foreign government and businesses they control from purchasing, acquiring, leasing or holding any interest in agricultural land in North Dakota. It would not affect land held by a foreign government before July 1, 2023.
Rep. Mike Beltz, R-Hillsboro, whose district covers the area near where the plant would be located, signed onto the bill as a co-sponsor. Beltz could not be reached for comment for the story.
The legislation wouldn't affect Fufeng's land purchase because the firm already owns the land where the plant is proposed to be built, but Klemin said preventing foreign governments from buying North Dakota agriculture land is "a matter of principle."
"A foreign government may have unlimited resources, and how much land are we going to let them buy?" Klemin said.
HB 1135 by Jeremy Turley on Scribd
When asked about the proposed Fufeng mill, Klemin said locating a business controlled by the Chinese government so close to the Grand Forks Air Force Base is "a poor idea." Fufeng USA has denied that the Chinese government controls its business.
"Having that kind of an enterprise near a strategic air base in Grand Forks — we (the U.S.) could not do that in China," Klemin said.
Grand Forks city leaders publicly announced that China-based Fufeng chose Grand Forks as its first U.S. site in late 2021. Since then the proposed plant has stirred up a yearlong debate with opponents of the project raising concerns about traffic, pollution and national security.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States wrapped up its review on Fufeng last month, determining that the project does not fall under its jurisdiction.
No hearing has yet been scheduled for the bill.
Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley contributed to this report