Until retiring last year, Frank Matejcek spent most of his life farming: raising cattle, growing wheat, sugar beets and other crops on 800 acres just outside Grand Forks, North Dakota, on the border of Minnesota.
Now, after 50 years of working the land, Matejcek and his wife Lucy are among a number of farmers and other Grand Forks-area residents who say they are fighting to protect the land, and their community, from plans for the construction of a large wet corn mill plant by the Chinese conglomerate Fufeng Group Ltd.
The plant would be the first U.S.-based manufacturing facility for Fufeng, a Hong Kong-based holding company engaged in a range of agricultural, chemical and other businesses. The project is slated to be constructed on a 370-acre site, using corn to make food additives, animal feed and other products.
State and city leaders have cheered the plans, and say the project will bring a much-needed boost to the workforce and economy.