Budzinski, Bost Urge Review of Chinese Acquisition of Cahokia Grain Terminal 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) and Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising their concerns over the recent acquisition of the Cahokia grain terminal by COFCO International, a Chinese state-run company. In the letter, Budzinski and Bost urged the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to immediately review the acquisition to weigh the consequences for America’s national security and the region’s agricultural economy.

“As the Chinese Communist Party tries to strengthen its grip on the means of American agricultural production and commerce, we must push back,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “Today, Congressman Mike Bost and I sent a letter to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States raising our concerns about the Chinese government’s acquisition of the Cahokia grain terminal. I urge the committee to take a serious look at the scope and implications this transaction could have on our national security and on the Heartland’s agricultural economy.” 

“China is attempting to buy up America’s commercial infrastructure and farmland at a breakneck pace. The economic and national security implications are far too great to allow that to happen,” said Congressman Bost. “This is an issue that should resonate with Republicans and Democrats alike. Rep. Budzinski and I are demanding a timely review of this transfer because federal officials need to understand how it will impact the safety and security of the American people, especially here in Southern Illinois.”

The full text of the Member’s letter to Secretary Yellen can be found here and below:  

The Honorable Janet Yellen

Chair

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Chair Yellen,

We write to you in your capacity as Chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to express concerns with a recent transaction between COFCO International Ltd (COFCO) and Growmark Inc. in Cahokia, Illinois. This transaction fully divests U.S. ownership of an active grain terminal along the Mississippi River to COFCO International Ltd, China’s largest state-run food and agriculture company with a focus on grains, oilseeds, and sugar supply chains.

In 2017, COFCO and Growmark Inc. entered a partnership where both companies jointly owned and operated the barge, truck and rail terminal in Cahokia, Illinois. Through this agreement, Growmark also staffed a grain merchandiser for COFCO to help facilitate grain transactions and oversee patron accounts. By attempting to convert ownership solely to the Chinese-owned COFCO and eliminating this partnership, we are concerned that this transaction will pose a threat to U.S. national security on America’s largest inland waterway.

Strategically located on the Mississippi River near St. Louis, the Cahokia facility is a grain and byproduct transloading terminal. According to COFCO and Growmark Inc., the facility has six truck receiving lanes, a rail loop track spanning 37,000 feet, two rail pits allowing for simultaneous unloading of two shuttle trains and two 1,600 t/hour barge loading belts serving two barge loading docks. The site is a high-speed rail and truck-to-barge loading facility that is served by the Alton & Southern Railroad and is able to receive product from all seven of North America’s Class I railroads.

However, this is not COFCO’s first acquisition of a U.S. grain terminal along the Mississippi River. In 2016, COFCO acquired another grain terminal when it purchased the remaining shares of Nidera, a Dutch agribusiness which focused on grain and seed trade. COFCO now owns more than six locations across the U.S. for commercial sales, port terminals, and warehouse storage.

While we support expanding access to foreign markets, it is alarming that a majority of U.S. ports and terminals are owned and operated by foreign entities, especially China. COFCO’s acquisition of the Cahokia grain terminal is just the latest in an ongoing divesture of American waterways and will contribute to that majority.

We respectfully request that CFIUS consider these concerns and look into this acquisition further to fully understand the scope and implications of this transaction on our national security.

Sincerely,

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