The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) announced last week that it has been awarded a $169,850 grant to promote North Dakota’s specialty crops to international buyers. The grant was awarded by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, which administers the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The NDTO will use the funds to create the Specialty Crop Program 2017, which will increase the state’s global market visibility and competitiveness of the specialty crop sector, with this year’s primary focus on the Middle East and North Africa.
Specialty crops included in this block grant program are peas, beans, lentils, and confectionary sunflowers. A full list of specialty crops is available on the USDA’s website.
The Specialty Crop Program 2017 will involve market research on both existing and promising markets for pulse crops, a limited number of competitive grants to exporters for foreign focused sales trips, a trade mission and a reverse trade mission focused on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The MENA region is a significant importer of pulses and is buying predominately from Canada. The NDTO seeks to increase North Dakota’s market share by organizing a trade mission to the region, with dates to be announced. A reverse trade mission will follow, taking place in North Dakota and promoting regional pulse crops and pulse ingredients to potential buyers.
Additional markets recently targeted by the Specialty Crop Program include Peru and Colombia. Beverly Flaten represented Garrison, ND based JM Grain on these recent trade missions, which were partially funded by the block grant.
“The Specialty Crop Program has provided opportunities for JM Grain in Peru, Colombia and elsewhere, sharing with customers our great North Dakota pulse products,” said Flaten. “Without this, we would not have been able to develop relationships nor meet the buyers that have written contracts with us.”
Chris Adams of Adams Family Farm in Grand Forks has participated in multiple trade missions partially funded by the Specialty Crop Program, as well.
“It taught me everything I needed to know, going on those trips.” said Adams.
Information and applications for the Specialty Crop Program are available on the NDTO website at www.ndto.com/specialty-crop-grant.
NDTO is a member-based organization that provides education, research, advocacy and leadership so that North Dakota companies can develop and expand their export business. NDTO is a public-private partnership, led by a board of directors, and chaired by North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford.