Path opens for Fufeng project after federal agencies determine land deal was 'not covered' by CFIUS
The statement said the review took three months
GRAND FORKS — A federal panel tasked with reviewing a proposed wet corn milling plant at the heart of controversy in Grand Forks has determined the project's land deal does not fall under its jurisdiction, presumably clearing a path for the plant to move forward.
In a statement, Fufeng USA announced that after an “extensive two-phase review” the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States determined the land acquisition was “not a ‘covered transaction’” under the committee’s jurisdiction and CFIUS will not be taking any further action on the deal. The statement said the review took three months.
“Fufeng USA is pleased with the outcome of the CFIUS review and is looking forward to building its wet corn milling and biofermentation plant in Grand Forks, North Dakota,” the statement said.
The review was completed by CFIUS on Dec. 12. Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said the lead federal agencies as part of the review were the departments of treasury, defense and agriculture.
“Essentially the outcome is CFIUS is not taking action to suspend, lock or prohibit the transaction, and the CFIUS process has completed,” Feland said.
Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said the CFIUS process was one hurdle for the project to clear, but more work is likely to be done on the project before anything becomes official.
“At least we know CFIUS isn’t going to stop it,” Bochenski said.
Holds on Fufeng-related infrastructure projects, which were put in place in September as CFIUS requested more information, are now lifted according to Feland.
“I think we’re back to what we’ve been working on along all the environmental, engineering, those perspectives that we continue to work on,” he said. “Certainly we’ve been more in the planning and design phase so those will move forward … this year and likely through the next few months into next year as we move on.”
Work also will continue for the area around the plant, which was annexed into the city over the summer.
The months-long debate about the proposed corn milling plant from Fufeng Group, an agribusiness with ties to China, created much discussion in and around Grand Forks since the plant was first announced in November 2021. The controversy has gained national attention.
Opponents of the project listed the environment and national security, especially its proximity to Grand Forks Air Force Base, as top concerns. Security has been a chief concern for many opponents, including U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who spoke about national security implications in a broadcast interview in October. He and Sen. John Hoeven advised the city against moving forward with the project in August, also citing security concerns.
Bochenski said the next steps still need to be decided.
“... We’ll see what the council decides to do going forward,” he said. “It’ll be a matter of seeing how we want to progress.”