North Dakota agribusinesses, along with the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), hosted more than 110 international visitors last week during the seventh-annual Big Iron International Visitor’s Program, which ran Sept. 9-12 in Fargo. Visitors traveled from around the world to learn more about the latest innovations in farm machinery and advancements in agricultural production.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple welcomed delegates from 16 countries who gathered at the Big Iron Farm Show on Tuesday as part of four days of events designed to help forge business ties between North Dakota agribusinesses and foreign buyers. During the week, visitors attended a variety of events including agriculture equipment demonstrations, farm and ranch tours, one-on-one business meetings, the Big Iron Farm Show and educational seminars.
“Global demand for North Dakota’s high-quality and innovative products and services continues to grow year over year,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “North Dakota businesses are expanding their presence in the global marketplace and programs like this are helping to drive that growth.”
The largest delegations at the 2013 Big Iron International Visitor’s Program traveled from Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine and Uruguay, with visitor’s also coming from Australia, Bosnia, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Malawi, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Since the program’s inception seven years ago, NDTO and North Dakota agribusinesses have hosted during Big Iron Farm Show more than 750 international guests from 35 countries.
This year, 26 North Dakota companies participated in program to promote their products to serious international buyers. The companies included agricultural machinery manufacturers, food-grade commodity producers, agriculture service companies and other agribusinesses.
“North Dakota is seen around the world as a one-stop-shop for agriculture. International buyers turn to North Dakota for cutting-edge equipment, value-added foods, seeds, crop handling and education,” Trade Office Executive Director Dean Gorder, said. “The Big Iron International Visitors Program is designed to address all these international agribusiness needs and help grow international business relationships.”
The Big Iron International Visitors Program is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota’s high quality products in key international markets throughout the world. According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota’s merchandise exports have grown over 250 percent since 2005, from $1.19 billion $4.28 billion in 2012.
Today, North Dakota businesses are selling their products and services in 175 countries throughout the world. International trade supports an estimated 104,000 in North Dakota.
Big Iron, held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, features more than 800 exhibitors and attracts approximately 80,000 visitors annually.