Plain Talk: Grand Forks Mayor Bochenski speaks out in the aftermath of the Fufeng controversy


MINOT, N.D. — Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said his city first asked officials at the Grand Forks Air Force Base about the potential security risks of a corn milling plant to be built by Fufeng , a Chinese company, some 16 months ago.

The Air Force has finally given an answer, in the form of a letter to North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, but should it have taken that long?

Bochenski joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss the Air Force’s letter, which indicated that Fufeng’s project would represent a significant security threat, thus ending the city’s participation in the development. He expressed some frustration with how long it took for his community to get an answer. “We expected more out of the federal government,” he said.

Mayor Bochenski also spoke about how heated the debate came at times, saying that University of North Dakota President Andrew Armacost had called him to communicate that some of the students and faculty on his campus of Chinese heritage were feeling “uncomfortable” thanks to anti-Chinese blowback against the project.

Also joining this episode of Plain Talk was Dr. Charlie Bahnson, a wildlife veterinarian with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, who addressed legislation that would remove his agency’s ability to regulate deer baiting. House Bill 1151, introduced by Rep. Paul Thomas, a Republican from Velva, is the legislation in question. Bahnson said his department needs that authority to protect North Dakota’s deer herd for future generations of hunters, and to protect animal agriculture.

“We use restricting that practice as a way to slow down the spread of disease,” he said. Deer baiting restrictions are not in any way intended to be a commentary from the department on the practice itself. “We’re not in the business of regulating ethics around hunting.”

“I’d like nothing more than to never talk about baiting again,” he added. “I don’t like to stir the pot.”

Want to be notified when new episodes of Plain Talk publish? Subscribe — it’s free! — on the podcast service of your choice.