United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

Posted on August 31, 2022

In mid-July, talks were underway between United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Kenya's Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary, Betty Maina, to launch the United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). The agreement was signed on July 14, 2022, and aims to increase investment, promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, benefit workers, consumers, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and support regional economic integrations in Africa. 

A roadmap is underway for these key outcomes:

  • Agriculture
  • Anti-Corruption
  • Digital Trade
  • Environment and Climate Change Action
  • Good Regulatory Practices
  • Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME)
  • Promoting Workers' Rights and Protections
  • Supporting the participation of Women, Youth in Trade
  • Standards of Collaboration
  • Trade Facilitation and Customs Procedures

Overall, ND does have some trade with Kenya, totaling $1.4 million in 2021. Primarily in edible vegetables, roots & tubers,  non-railway vehicles/parts, and industrial machinery. ND does export more than $13.9 million throughout the African continent, with primary exports in cereals, edible vegetables & tubers, non-railway vehicles, and industrial machinery. Some language in this new agreement shows an intention to include East Africa, and with the Prosper Africa Initiative forthcoming, looking into Africa as a trading partner may become easier.

ND may see some impact in sustainability and technology upgrades for Kenya as the country strives for food security. With some increased inflow of technology and modernization of farming practices, there could be some great strides in these areas.

MSMEs will also be a focus from both sides to increase integration for these smaller businesses and help make it possible for them to participate on a global scale. In a similar vein, incorporating opportunities for women and youth into trade policy is being examined. Information sharing and best practices exchanges are being discussed to infuse new energy and ideas into these businesses.

Simplification of trade procedures is also being addressed to aid in the pandemic and supply chain recovery. Streamlining border procedures and accelerating WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement implementation are also up for discussion.

If you are interested in commenting on the United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP)  the comment docket is open until  September 16, 2022. To access the docket, visit the Federal Register. To comment and see all the areas that will be covered in negotiations, visit www.regulations.gov and search for "USTR_FRDOC_0001-0770".

This agreement with Kenya does align with the US's Prosper Africa Initiative and will be useful in furthering connections and relations for bilateral trade throughout the continent. Such agreements, as they come into fruition, will hopefully benefit both sides and create more opportunities for trade with their desired focus areas.

NDTO will monitor updates and keep you informed as they become available.


Office of US Trade Representative: United States and Kenya Announce the Launch of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

Federal Register: U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

Global Compliance News: Kenya: Shared prosperity – the United States and Kenya sign Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership

How the Newly Signed OSRA will Impact Exports

How the Newly Signed OSRA will Impact Exports

Posted on June 17, 2022

The S.3580: Ocen Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA)was signed into law by President Biden on June 16, 2022, after passing the US House of Representatives with a 369-42 vote. The law provides more oversight and investigatory authority to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), which seeks to reduce excessive pricing from ocean carriers, increase industry transparency, and may reduce the high inflation rates impacting the US. The new law marks the first change to US regulations on international shipping since 1984.

With increased authority to the FMC, they now have the ability to initiate investigations of unfair or unreasonable business practices hampering the movement of goods and price gouging by the ocean shipping industry. While many of these issues have been addressed before the global pandemic, COVID-19 amplified the weaknesses in supply chains and caused uncertainty worldwide.

The law aims to prevent ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing to fill containers with US exports and shipping empty containers back to Asia for a quick refill. This practice has greatly impacted  North Dakotaians, Minnesotians, and many more throughout the Midwest; agricultural producers and processors across the region have struggled to get their products moving beyond US borders. The Agriculture Transportation Coalition estimates that 22% of US agricultural exports in 2021 were not delivered because of unreasonable shipping practices.

Investigation of late fees will be carried out by the FMC. The law will prevent excessive detention and demurrage fees (charges to exporters and importers for the use of the containers when they are not moved or returned within a set timeframe or storage at ports). The burden of proof for reporting unreasonable fees shifts from the invoiced party to the ocean carriers themselves. This law states that carriers will not be allowed to retaliate against shippers who bring about formal complaints or vary their business across different ocean carriers.

The FMC will also require quarterly tonnage reporting from ocean carriers, including both import/exports per vessel. The key to this provision is that a detail of loaded imports/exports and empty containers must be provided. This requirement provides the FMC with awareness of the (now common) practice of shipping empty containers for a refill in Asia. Moreover, the FMC will be provided more transparency into the intermodal chassis pool and chassis supply.

The large shipping conglomerates have gone from twenty companies now to just nine, which have further siphoned into three alliances. This decrease in competition has been attributed to the rising costs of more than 1000% in international shipping fees and record profit postings by these large conglomerates in recent years. The Biden Administration hopes to curb inflation by reducing unreasonable, and inflated overseas shipping prices that they believe are passed along directly to consumers. Although this makes up only a small portion of the inflation issues across the US, it is seen as a step in the right direction.

As the FMC gains more authority to reign in some of the challenges at the ports, experts remind us that seaports are only part of the supply chain backlog issues. There is continued stress on the infrastructure, inland transportation, and storage capabilities in the US that need upgrades and attention.

The FMC and parties like the World Shipping Council will need to work together for the bill's implementation, and the WSC says they will do their best to minimize supply chain disruptions. Time will tell as the new regulations come into effect. Many say that progress will still be slow as the measures are adopted.

NDTO will continue to monitor and update on the latest news for the implementation of OSRA.

Additional Resources:

CNBC: How President Biden's Ocean Reform Act Could Impact Shipping and Inflation

Freight Waves: Will the Shipping Reform Act Help Rebalance Scales? The FMC chairman Thinks So

gCaptain: President Biden Signs The Ocean Shipping Reform Act Into Law

National Hog Farmer: Biden signs Ocean Shipping Reform Act

S.3580 - Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022

Pork Business: Pork At the Port: Industry Praises the Ocean Shipping Reform Act Approval

Reuters: Biden Signs Ocean Shipping Bill in Bid to Reduce Export Backlogs

Yahoo Finance: Fragrance Creators Applauds Passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act Into Law

What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity?

What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity?

Posted on June 14, 2022

The United States, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam have joined together in shared interest to create The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). The goal is to cement relationships cross-culturally and advance regional economic connectivity. The framework, unveiled by the Biden administration on May 23, 2022, serves to reinvigorate interest in the Indo-Pacific region with increased commerce, trade, and investment between countries and emphasizes shared values.

The White House “acknowledge[s] the richness and the diversity of our vibrant regional economy. We share a commitment to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region that has the potential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”  They go on to highlight the importance of resiliency in securing supply chains and stimulating job growth, all of which were amplified by the global pandemic.

The IPEF’s key features include the broad topics of digital economies, supply chain resiliency, clean energy, and anti-corruption. Although wide-ranging, the framework represents the shared values and a way to start reconnecting with the Indo-Pacific region, which consists of 40% of the world's GDP. The framework includes these themes:

Connectivity and Cohesion: The framework hopes to achieve benefits in trade for free and fair trade commitments. They will adopt cross-border standards for the digital economy, e-commerce, and data integrity and utilization. Careful attention will be paid to small and medium-sized businesses to avoid being left out of the digital economy. Workers’ rights will also be scrutinized to impose higher environmental standards and corporate accountability.

Resiliency: A variety of commitments are being sought to prevent future disruptions in supply chains and support stability and resiliency. This notion is hoped to level price spikes by integrating technology mapping supply chains, traceability, and coordinated diversification. It is also set to ensure access to key raw and processed materials, semiconductors, critical minerals, and clean energy technology.

Increasing Clean Energy: Aligning with the Paris Agreement, a targeted approach to tackle the climate crisis will include renewable energy, carbon removal, increased energy efficiency standards, and methods to remove methane emissions.

Fair Economic Practices: Increasing access and removing the barriers to unfair tax and money laundering provisions will be adopted. The IPEF participants hope to exchange information on taxes, have strict regulations on bribery, and an overall crackdown on corruption to level the playing field.

As this agreement solidifies, it is important to remember a few key points.

The IPEF is not a free trade agreement (FTA). Currently, no tariff reductions or market access regulations are outlined, but if talks like this continue, experts say an FTA may be more likely in the future.

It serves to solidify relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. Just a few years ago, the US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and has not yet come back to the table for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that carried on after the US withdrawal. The IPEF is a cooperative framework that serves as a stepping stone to continue communication and solidifies interest in the Indo-Pacific region. The framework is based on shared values and a unified look toward the future. More to come as the IPEF progresses.


CNBC: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework: What it is — and why it matters

International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Political Significance of the New Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity

The Hindu: Explained | What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity?

The White House: FACT SHEET: In Asia, President Biden and a Dozen Indo-Pacific Partners Launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity

The White House: Statement on Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity

Reconnecting at Global Business Connections

Reconnecting at Global Business Connections

Posted on June 14, 2022

Business Connections (GBC) was created as an opportunity to bring together ND's
exporters-- which can certainly be a challenge for this globe-trotting bunch!
The goal is to connect locally and expand globally, gaining insights as to what
others are doing right and how we can see our businesses through a different lens.
A culmination of over 100 ND exporters, government, business professionals, and
more joined the event.  

so much change in the global landscape, it was important to gather and connect
with old friends and develop some new ones. If you missed the event or want a
recap, here are some of the highlights..

opening keynote delivered by  Natsuyo
Lipschutz brought introspection as we learned about cultural missteps and the
spectrum of low to high-context situations. Throughout this session, her own
experience and blunders were peppered in to normalize the very real possibility
of making mistakes when communicating cross-culturally. She emphasized how to
take on the challenge of working with other cultures and observing our own
cultural tendencies and assumptions.   This session brought about many questions with
an audience full of engaged learners.

morning sessions brought topics on economics perspectives from Wells Fargo's
Sarah House, whose data-driven presentation sparked many great conversations on
the changing landscape of exports. A panel on Opportunities in Africa moderated
by NDTO's own Drew Combs, had an honest discussion with Heather Ranck of the US
Commercial Service, Delore Zimmerman of Praxis Africa, and Alex Cyusa of
Weather Modification, all of whom have worked extensively in Africa. Kermit
Nash and Sandy Bilus of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr hosted a conversation on
cybersecurity topics and how they impact business. Michale Hirou of Tractus
Aisa provided ND-specific market analysis on Asia.

Governor Sanford presented the 2021 Global Business Awards highlighting three
inspiring stories that exemplify what it is to be a top exporter in ND..
Congratulations to the 2021 ND Exporter of the Year, Adams Family Farms. Adams
Family Farm incorporates many new ideas and processes for the operation's
future. The leadership has 'a do more with less' mentality to increase
efficiency, safety, and yields. This model has helped them bridge the gap
between consumers and producers and become more creative with exporting and

2021 ND Service to Exporters award was presented to the Rural Export Center. More
often, it is challenging for rural companies to access resources to support trade,
and this program breaks down those barriers. Their signature research provides
a comprehensive look into market potential with a customized approach based on
the companies' objectives.

Shorma, President of WCCO Belting, was the proud recipient of the Global
Ambassador Award for his dedication to the North Dakota Trade Office and continued
efforts to push exporters forward. As a business leader in North Dakota, Shorma
and WCCO Belting are actively engaged in global pursuits, exporting to more
than 20 countries across the globe, and has been awarded both President of the
United States' E- Award for Excellence and E-Star Award.

afternoon continued with an engaging panel discussion on transportation moderated
by Bob Sinner of SB&B Foods. ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman,
Jonathan Lamb of Lake Superior Warehousing, and Amy McBeth of BNSF Railways all
provided their insights on the issues. This discussion brought light to many questions
and concerns that ND exporters are facing as a result of the current supply chain

the day off, Howard Dahl, President of Amity Technology, provided some
interesting context on doing business with Russia and Ukraine, integrated with
the complexities of exporting. Part history lesson, part how-to guide, Dahl,
with more than 40 years of exporting experience, laid out some honest truths
for the exporters in the room.

By the
end of the day, many were hesitant to leave as good conversation flowed with
new topics and new insights for exporters and beyond. It was an excellent opportunity
to reconnect with the many who came to GBC, and the NDTO team is grateful for
the continued discussion and how we can help support your global exports. Thank
you to the many who brought their insights, expertise, and questions to the
table so we can all continue to learn from each other. We hope to see you at
the next GBC!

Press Release: Adams Family Farms, Rural Export Center, and Thomas Shorma Receive Global Business Awards

Press Release: Adams Family Farms, Rural Export Center, and Thomas Shorma Receive Global Business Awards

Posted on May 24, 2022

FARGO, N.D.—Adams Family Farms, a five-generation farm based in Grand Forks, ND was named North Dakota's 2021 Exporter of the Year for its achievements and innovation in international expansion. The Rural Export Center was awarded the 2021 Service to Exporter Award on account of their exemplary market research and data-driven approach to support ND rural companies and their global exports. Thomas Shorma, president of WCCO Belting, received the 2021 Global Ambassador award for his unwavering support of ND's international trade initiatives.
Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford presented the awards during a ceremony at Global Business Connections, a conference hosted by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO). The NDTO strives to grow ND's global exports by serving ND exporters through education, engagement, advocacy, and research.
Today marks the return of the Global Business Connections conference, which was last held in 2018. The conference, held at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, welcomed over 100 attendees, and included keynote addresses, educational breakout sessions, and panel discussions with impactful topics.
The opening keynote address was delivered by Natsuyo Lipschutz, a TEDx speaker, 5-time Toastmasters international speech contest winner, co-author of the Amazon bestseller, 'The Success Blueprint' and strategy consultant.
Afternoon sessions included a panel discussion on transportation featuring ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, Jonathan Lamb, President of Lake Superior Warehousing, and Amy McBeth, Regional Public Affairs Director of BNSF Railways, rounded out the panel, which was moderated by Robert Sinner, President of SB&B Foods. Howard Dahl, President of Amity Technologies, closed the event, sharing his perspective on the evolving landscape of global exports.
Drew Combs, NDTO's Executive Director, remained a mainstay throughout the day as he welcomed conference-goers and served as moderator and host. Combs joined the NDTO team in 2019. With a background in cattle ranching and energy, his insights have led the NDTO through the pandemic with many opportunities ahead. "I am excited to have so many hardworking North Dakotans in attendance today," says Combs, "International trade is such an important part of North Dakota's economy. We are thrilled to bring together many stakeholders, perspectives, and problem solvers. We hope that everyone takes this opportunity to be curious, network, and find opportunities to learn and grow." Combs also expressed appreciation for the 2021 Global Business awardees saying that "No better companies could have received these awards today, Adams Family Farm, the Rural Export Center and Tom Shorma all exemplify the spirit of North Dakota and support its exports.”
2021 North Dakota Exporter of the Year
North Dakota Exporter of the Year Award is presented to one business that has achieved success in entering or further developing international markets. The recipient of this award must incorporate exports into their long-term business growth strategy, have demonstrated innovation and an ability to overcome challenges in exporting, and shown commitment to export market development in 2021.
Adams Family Farm incorporates many new ideas and processes for the operation's future. The leadership has a 'do more with less' mentality to increase efficiency, safety, and yields. This model has helped them bridge the gap between consumers and producers and become more creative with exporting and experimentation.
They have found great success with niche products that work well for specific international markets. But more than that, the company says their greatest accomplishment for 2021 is operating this business together and staying healthy doing it. With so much room to grow and a good foundation laid, this company is an excellent example of how ND-grown products are represented globally and makes them a well-deserving recipient of the 2021 North Dakota Exporter of the Year Award.
2021 North Dakota Service to Exporters Award
The Service to Exporter award is given to an international business resource that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to supporting ND exporters and increasing the state's overall international business strategy.
Based in Fargo, ND, the Rural Export Center was formed in the midst of the pandemic but persevered to support ND and America's rural exporters. Often, it is more challenging for rural companies to access resources to support trade, and this program breaks down those barriers. Their signature research provides a comprehensive look into market potential with a customized approach based on the companies' objectives. Many exporting success stories have been reported from ND companies who were able to reach agreements in Angola, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and several Latin American countries. This hardworking team's commitment to assisting ND exporters, especially through the pandemic, is one of the many reasons they are well deserving of the 2021 North Dakota Service to Exporters Award.
2021 North Dakota Global Ambassador
The Global Ambassador award recognizes an individual or organization that selflessly assists in the promotion of ND products worldwide and helps strengthen the relationships between ND companies and their international partners.
Inspiration struck Thomas Shorma, President of WCCO Belting, on an international sales trip nearly 20 years ago. He realized that exporting was the key to success, and more ND businesses needed to be a part of the global marketplace. At the time, Minneapolis was the closest place for ND exporters to gain the training they needed to succeed, so Shorma used his ample experience in working with both federal and state government officials to support a US Commercial Service trade specialist placed in ND and was involved in the creation of the North Dakota Trade Office.
As a business leader in North Dakota, Shorma and WCCO Belting are actively engaged in global pursuits, exporting to more than 20 countries across the globe, and has been awarded both President of the United States' E- Award for Excellence and E-Star Award. Beyond exporting, Shorma often speaks about job opportunities in manufacturing and leadership, with a focus on attracting younger generations to embrace their community and the variety of jobs available.
With dedication, Shorma continues to push the state forward onto the global stage and has helped bring ND to the forefront of international business.
The North Dakota Trade Office is a membership-based, private/public partnership that provides education, research, advocacy, organization, and leadership so that NDTO members and ND companies can increase exports and grow their international business. 

Global Business Connections Spotlights

Global Business Connections Spotlights

Posted on May 5, 2022

On May 24, 2022, the NDTO's Global Business Connections conference returns, live and in person at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, ND. The event will open with a keynote address by Natusyou Lipschutz, speaking about the keys to success in global communications. You can read more about her expertise in this article. The rest of the day is filled with great topics that are not to be missed, and we are excited to share more of what's in store for this one-day event packed with information essential for your export businesses.

Mainstage Events:

The Congestion Conundrum: An Insider Panel on the Transportation Challenges Exporters Face

This panel will take on the tough topic of transportation that defines so many business interactions and touches almost every industry today. The panel will be moderated by Bob Sinner of SB&B Foods, who has been a long-time advocate for ND exporters. Members of the panel include ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman,  the President of Lake Superior Warehousing  Jonathan Lamb, and a representative from BNSF. Each panelist has an insider look into the transportation and supply chain issues that are impacting so many. Come ready with questions for this interactive discussion of one of the largest hurdles to exporting today.

Insights on the Evolving Business of Export with Howard Dahl, Amity Technology

Howard Dahl, the president of Amity Technology, has been a longstanding leader in ND with a passion for innovation and the drive for exporting. With the last few years providing several challenges, we are eager to hear more about his take on the evolution of exports and what he sees for the future.

Breakout Sessions:

Economic Considerations for Exporters with Sarah House, Well Fargo

Sarah House, the Managing Director and Senior Economist at Wells Fargo Corporate and Investment Bank, will share her insights on today's economy and how it will impact exporters. Based in Charlotte, NC, she covers the US macro-economy, including the labor market, inflation trends, and monetary policy. Sarah frequently speaks about the economy to the national media, including The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNBC, and National Public Radio. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2010, Sarah worked as a research associate for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Business Opportunities in Africa

With such a large market full of potential, this session will feature local experts in their experiences in doing business in Africa, offering guidance and perspectives along the way with plenty of opportunities for discussion. The panel will include Heather Ranck of the USCS Fargo, Delore Zimmerman of Praxis Africa, and Alexandre Cyusa of Weather Modification/Fargo Jet Center. NDTO's Executive Director, Drew Combs, will moderate the panel.

Cybersecurity Threats Facing Exporters  with Alexander R. Bilus, and Kermit Nash of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

Experts in the field of cybersecurity and data privacy, Alexander (Sandy) R. Bilus and Kermit Nash, will dispense their knowledge on this ever-changing landscape and how to mitigate the digital risks for exporters. Bilus and Nash will help exporters take a closer look at all things digital to consider the compliance and integrity of their digital sphere and how to identify and mitigate threats.

Doing Business in Asia with Michael Hirou, Tractus Asia

Michael Hirou, USA Chief Representative and Manager with Tractus Asia, joins us from California to talk about the market trends and nuances for ND exporters doing business with Asia. Several key countries, including in the ASEAN region, Japan, and China, will be presented in a multi-industry approach.

Michael joined Tractus Asia in 2017 with a unique background combining entrepreneurial endeavors with Wall Street experience. He works with US-based clients on projects in real-time, bridging the time zones between North America and Asia in our Economic Development, Strategy and Execution, and Corporate Finance practice areas while also focusing on business development.

Register now for GBC to save your seat for this day focused to help you grow your export business.

Springing into 2022 with the NDTO

Springing into 2022 with the NDTO

Posted on May 5, 2022

While we all know the saying 'April showers bring May flowers' at the NDTO, May is raining down with events! Check out all the new things happing as we move into spring and onward for 2022.

May 24 brings the return of the Global Business Connections conference hosted in Fargo, ND. This one-day event is packed with keynotes, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and the 2021GBC Awards ceremony. Take this opportunity to engage with ND exporters, the government, and many colleagues and friends who are serious about ND exports. Register here.

In late May, the NDTO, along with ND Agriculture Commissioner Goehring, will lead a trade mission to Peru and Columbia. Prescreened buyers are selected in the host countries to meet with several ND specialty crop producers and processors to expand their business internationally. This project is funded by Specialty Crop Block Grants through the ND Department of Agriculture.

In June, NDTO will lead a small group from ND on a multi-industry trade mission to South Korea. The group is expanding on relationships and foraging new contacts to sell ND products into this region. The SBA STEPND program is funding this project.

Big Iron International Visitors Program planning is well underway for fall, as the NDTO partners with USCS in Fargo to bring a wide variety of international delegates to ND for the Big Iron Farm Show in September. We will be working closely with NDTO member companies to match the delegation's interests and showcase ND machinery and agriculture technology with tours, education sessions, and interactive activities throughout the show.

October will bring the long-awaited Japanese trade mission, a joint trade and investment mission that is being planned with the ND Governor's Office, ND Department of Commerce, ND Department of Agriculture, and NDTO. This Governor-led mission will feature several industries from ND  to build new and reconnect with existing Japanese partners.

In mid-October, NDTO will lead a trade mission to SIAL Paris for specialty crop producers and processors. This show, held biennially, attracts visitors from over 200 countries to showcase leading innovations in the food industry.

If you and your company are eager to get moving again, don't forget that NDTO has opportunities for qualified companies to support exporting projects like sales trips, trade missions, marketing, and translation projects through grant funds. Check out more details on grant opportunities here.

Member Profile: Genesis Seed

Member Profile: Genesis Seed

Posted on April 8, 2022

Genesis Seed Solutions, based in Berthold, ND, is a seed production company with state-of-the-art facilities and prides itself on efficient and effective agronomic practices. Founder Nathan Fegley grew up on the family’s farm, with his father owning part of Fegley Grain. So, you can certainly say that this lifestyle is in his blood.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do after college, but I knew I wanted a steady income and to stay around the farm. I even started a cow-calf operation at one point,” says Fegley. With previous experience growing seed with Fegley Grain, he was familiar with seed production process and wanted to grow the business. Genesis Seed was born to produce superior seed and then process and sell the seed after production. They have two locations that handle screening, color sorting, debearding, grading, and even on-site packaging to ensure the quality and output of an excellent product.

Genesis Seed is a private company invested in finding successful varieties of seed, which can be a lengthy process of crossbreeding, selection, and testing. Working globally, they have found varieties of seed that do not perform well in other climates, but they do very well in ND. For example, wheat and dry pea varieties that have less success in Europe can thrive in North Dakota. “We are highly selective on the varieties we choose to move forward with, and it takes time to discover and grow a consistent crop and reliable seed for use,” explains Fegley.

As the seed business started to take off, the business grew from Fegly Grain Cleaning, moving forward to merge with United Agronomy. This merger led to the formation of Genesis Seed in 2018. Fegley explains, “the partnership with United Agronomy brought a lot to the table for Genesis Seed; with more professionalism and services, we were able to grow into the business that I had always wanted.”  The merger brought more opportunities to grow Genesis Seed, allowing Fegley more time to explore new markets.

“We’ve gone down a lot of rabbit trails, but we like to explore so many ideas in this business. Exploring has served us well to find opportunities the ‘other guys’ aren’t even considering,” says Fegley. Exporting is one of those trails. Genesis Seed started working with a grain merchandiser to focus on exports year-round. This has helped open up opportunities across the globe for their products. Having someone focused on exports has helped with consistency, keeping exports top of mind, and exploring untapped regions. “We can take a product like dry peas, where the market is rather mature around North Dakota, and find opportunities in developing markets like India or the Middle East in need of these products,” he explains.

In 2019, Genesis Seed expanded its facilities, which led them to new opportunities. Fegley explains that “we knew if we built a bigger facility, more business would come. And it did!” With the two facilities, they have greater flexibility and overall capacity. The increasing need for gluten-free products has worked in Genesis Seeds’ favor, as their facilities are well-suited to accommodate separation to ensure quality. Their facilities are also advantageous for exporting. Large shipping containers are often needed for export and grain elevators are not set up to load containers, but Genesis Seed is. They are even well-positioned with the intermodal port just 25 miles away in Minot, ND. Although there are major challenges worldwide with shipping and logistics, utilizing a port close to home is an advantage.

Fegley was reluctant to offer advice for exporting as a relatively new exporter, but, as a business owner, he recommends spending 20% of your time figuring out what doesn’t work. Exploring “rabbit trails,” as he calls them, can help find the niche and uniqueness for each company. Also, finding trusted mentors and people you can bounce ideas off has been highly beneficial.

Fegely’s goal with Genesis Seed is to “capture the margins from seed to seed production, through to the end-user, and we keep ourselves very busy. If we can do that, it would be really great,” he says. But even more, Genesis Seed is steadily increasing its impact and global footprint from Berthold, ND. A continuing eagerness to explore new ideas, markets, and applications will keep Genesis Seed at the forefront of the industry for many years to come.


A Global Strategy for Cultural Communications

A Global Strategy for Cultural Communications

Posted on April 8, 2022

Natsuyo Lipschutz Keynotes Global Business Connections, May 24, 2022

Natsuyo Lipshutz will give this year's opening keynote at the Global Business Connections conference, hosted by the North Dakota Trade Office on May 24, 2022, in Fargo, ND. She stands out as an international speaker and author with a unique perspective on global leadership and cross-cultural communications strategies.

Her presentation is designed to bridge cultural gaps and leverage diversity to inspire audiences to become more successful in their communications styles and leadership on a global scale. She breaks down communications strategies into digestible action items and provides meaningful insights on some of the most basic communications missteps. With the goal of helping business people recognize and remove barriers, she delivers an empowering message to move beyond our differences and communicate effectively.

Lipschutz is well versed in global business communications and has, quite frankly, written the book on it. She co-authored "The Success Blueprint" with  Brian Tracy, a renowned businessman, author, and motivational speaker.  She is also the author of "20Ji Ni Sogiotose" ("Say It in 20 Words") in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, as well as "Story ni otoshikome" ("Motivate with Your Own Story") in Japanese.

Her consultancy work in global leadership and cross-culture communication has not gone unnoticed, as she is recognized as one of the leaders in this field. Lipschutz is a managing principal of ASPIRE Intelligence, her own strategy consulting firm, and an executive consultant for Breakthrough Speaking, specializing in global public speaking engagements. She is an accomplished public speaker with engaging TEDx talks and is a 5-time Toastmasters International speech contest district finalist. Lipschutz continues to provide training and strategies to top companies, including American Express, BNP Paribas, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Toyota, and Shiseido.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Lipschutz started her career at the Japanese trading company ITOCHU International in New York, New York and earned an MBA from New York University. Traveling to Japan frequently, she continues to conduct training, workshops, and speaking opportunities for both Japanese and English-speaking audiences.

She competes as a Latin ballroom dancer in her free time and is a proud mother and cancer survivor.

If you are interested in global leadership and communications strategies to expand your knowledge and success internationally, Natsuyo Lipschuts' keynote is not to be missed. Be sure to register for Global Business Connections on May 24, 2022, in Fargo, ND.

Register Now for Global Business Connections

For more information about Natsuyo, please visit her webiste: http://www.natsuyolipschutz.us

International Travel Increasing, Restrictions Lifting, and North Dakotans on the Move

International Travel Increasing, Restrictions Lifting, and North Dakotans on the Move

Posted on April 8, 2022

March and April are bringing a whole slew of new travel updates, and most of them are on the bright side. Many countries are loosening restrictions on travel, opening up borders, and welcoming business and leisure travel once again. While travel is back in many locations, it looks slightly different from a few years ago. So we thought, who better to talk about travel, than our own Lindsey Warner, Director of Operations at NDTO? She is an expert traveler who recently returned from the Gulfood show in Dubai, UAE, this February, where several ND companies showcased their specialty crop offerings. We are happy to report that everyone on the mission made it back safely with only a slight weather hiccup (blizzards in ND, go figure?). But, she admits, she never really stopped traveling throughout the pandemic, she just took many more precautions domestically and internationally. Here are some of her tips and tricks for traveling for those of us who are out of practice.

Plan ahead but be flexible. As a professional planner, Warner does know a thing or two about travel and trade missions, but, with so many unknowns, she says, don't forget to leave some room for flexibility. Be as flexible as possible, as the world is seeing so many changes with flight delays, alternate routes, and the limiting of overall flights, changes in your travel plans should be expected. "Because of all the flight issues, it is an even better reason to plan ahead," says Warner. Some airlines with recent fuel prices and global instability issues have taken to reducing flight frequencies by as much as 5-10% says Fortune Magazine. These delays are being seen at airports of all sizes as staffing shortages are an increasing issue for delays and cancellations.

Working with a travel agent can relieve some stress. "They will assist in so many ways and are well-versed in what is needed for international travel and help keep the documentation straight," explains Warner. Travel agents have been in high demand with changing rules and regulations across the globe and are skilled at navigating many of the stressful parts of planning and logistics for travel. Many agencies have seen a significant increase in their business starting in mid-2021 as CDC gave the green light for vaccinated travelers. These agents may also recommend travel insurance. While it may have seemed unnecessary in the past, travel insurance can save a lot of money if you test positive for COVID-19 on your trip. "Be sure the travel insurance is comprehensive and covers any changes specifically due to COVID-19," clarifies Warner, and rightfully so, as not all insurance is created equal.

Keep up to date with changing restrictions from country to country. Whether you are working with a travel agent or not, it is best to stay up to date on travel restrictions. While restrictions are lifting in many locations, it is still wise to keep informed about your destination country's rules and regulations. COVID-19 did teach us at least one thing - the world can change quickly, and so can each country's travel restrictions. Many sites tout real-time information, but the destination country's website should be checked regularly and followed closely. Warner also recommends Skyscanner, with a variety of tools that can help you assess your options and updates.

Keep your vaccination card handy. Even if you don't think you will need it, it is good practice to keep a copy or photo of your vaccination card on your phone available. If the situation changes quickly during your travels, it is best to be prepared with proof of your status if needed. There are also many businesses and events that require proof of testing or vaccination record for entry. A card from the CDC may not be enough for some locations. Each country can set up its own guidelines. Some countries require a digital version with a QR code; others require uploading your information before leaving your home country. Doing your research and looking at each country will be your best way to see which documents are required.

With this dynamic environment, it is even more essential to have a good plan for traveling internationally, make sure you have considered the hiccups that may pop up, and be flexible when they do. Overall, traveling can be challenging even without a pandemic looming, but Warner did have some general advice as well. "For any travelers, COVID-19 or not, my best advice is to be keenly aware of your surroundings." She goes on to say, "be a conscious traveler and fully aware of the situations you are putting yourself into, especially if you are traveling alone."

We had to ask our globe-trotting teammate what is the one thing she won't travel without? "A travel yoga mat," she explains, "traveling is stressful, and it is so easy to get out of a routine. The yoga mat is a great reminder to at least stretch."

There it is, some great suggestions to get you on your way to traveling again, be it for business or pleasure. As we move out of isolation and into more "business as usual", it is exciting to travel again, but also requires more planning to ensure you can travel safely and without incident.

Resources and References:

EruoNews: COVID in Europe: An Updated list of Travel Restrictions for Every European Country

Fortune: Rising Fuel Prices Make Travel and Airfare more Expensive

New York Times: Make Way for the Travel Agents. Again.

Skyscanner: COVID-19 travel updates and restrictions

The Washington Post: How to Use Vaccine Passports for International Travel

USA Today: UK Plans to drop International COVID Travel Measures, Including Testing Requirements, This Week