Member Profile: Leonardite Products

Member Profile: Leonardite Products

Posted on August 31, 2022

Leonardite is not something familiar to most yet you will learn the story of Leonardite Products in Williston, ND, and their push to grow the state’s economy through exporting. Cherie Harms, President of Leonardite Product, has, as she puts it, “lived in every corner and the middle of North Dakota and.” Seeing the state from so many angles, she is passionate about exporting and finds it a quintessential way to grow the ND economy.

Harms came to Leonardite Products in 2008 after the previous owners decided to sell following an electrical fire that disabled the original processing facility. She jumped in with both feet, taking on the opportunity to grow a ND industry. With majority ownership of the company, she is always looking for ways to do things better and make improvements. The team at Leonardite Products has continued to fine-tune the operation, Harms says, “in 2018, we added strategic partners who added experience and efficiency. Our R&D committee is looking for value-added products,” and much more. Learning a lot along the way, Harms has had many positions in the past, including Development Director of the North Dakota Trade Office, president of a recording company, development director at a medical center. Experience in marketing and advertising have prepared her for new challenges. “It’s been an adventure, ” she says, “my jobs have changed, but we are always talking on the phone, writing correspondence, and going to meetings. All of those are transferable skills.”

Leonardite, abundant in Western ND contains an organic humate found in. It is also used as an oil drilling fluid additive. Leonardite, named after A.G. Leonard, a geologist from the University of North Dakota, is a naturally occurring oxidized lignite. It is found about 10-15 feet below the topsoil.  It is often used in soil to aid in crop production and healthier soils. There have been claims in the past about leonardite and similar humic products’ effectiveness and uses, yet Leonardite Products likes to let the data speak for itself.

With their data-focused approach, Harms says, “there are 23 different ways to test humic and fulvic acids, and consumers were comparing apples to oranges. So, we list several tests on our websites to help consumers understand how the test results vary.  It had been difficult with companies promoting results from unidentified methods so in 2010 Harms felt it necessary to help create the Humic Products Trade Association, which she continues to serve as the Secretary-Treasurer. The Association works closely with processors, distributors, researchers, and mines to advance the commercial use of humic products and provide a backbone of regulation and research.

The primary leonardite Products customer is a fertilizer or drilling fluids manufacturer. They export globally with export concentration going to the Mediterranean and the  Middle East.

Harms shares that “It has always been my goal throughout my career is to make North Dakota stronger by building a primary sector business. We can bring new money into the state, and help the economy and provide jobs.” She goes on to explain she feels as a small state,  exporting is a key component to success for ND.

Her advice for exporters is to use the many resources available in the state, explaining that “especially in North Dakota, we are a small nimble state and we can often navigate more effectively.”  She has had many positive experiences, but one that sticks out recently was with the US Commercial Service, which saved them from making a deal with a less-than-legitimate buyer. Even for seasoned exporters, there are still opportunities to utilize the services around you, do your research, and explore your options.

Leonardite Products, with Harms and her team at the helm, continues to make an impact in ND. The state has a geography rich in humic products, with a future that, can support and assist other uses in agriculture and beyond. What is next for Leonardite products? “Keep on improving,” says Harms, “we can always increase efficiencies and try to be open to new opportunities.”

For more information on Leonardite Products, visit their website here.

Member Profile: PS Industries

Member Profile: PS Industries

Posted on July 6, 2022

PS Industries calls Grand Forks, ND home and has done so since 1974. This family-owned company has expanded and grown from the needs of its customers to have three primary initiatives: high-quality industrial doors, safety/fall-protection products, and flood barriers. Mark Haaland, Sales and Marketing Director, took some time to showcase many of the projects PS Industries is working on all over the globe. The far-reaching company currently sells into more than fifty countries, and with NASA contracts, the sky is certainly not the limit.

PS Industries is unique - Haaland explains, “we have a 200,000 sq foot facility in Grand Forks, we have 115 to120 employees. The company has shared a profit-share of $ 4.2 million with employees since 2007, and about 99.9% of PS Industries products go outside the state.” Very little of what they manufacture is used in ND due to the type of products for large-scale flooding, industrial doors, and other uses, but they are well-utilized along the coasts and slowly making more of an impact inland. “Each of these lines,” Haaland says, “all came to fruition because of a customer request… Even our stocked lines all started as custom-made products to solve a specific need.” The key to the company is its agility and ability to find creative well-engineered solutions for specialized problems.

PS Industries has a strong reputation for products designed to mitigate water issues such as hurricanes and flooding. Floodproofing products can be passive or active processes that need deployment. Many of their current US projects are infrastructure upgrades in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which swept across the eastern seaboard in October 2012. PS Industries estimates they are covering more than forty-one thousand openings as a result of extreme weather. Also, an increasing global need for flood mitigation is predicted due to a growing amount of severe weather incidents. PS Industries does not see a slow down in their protective products anytime soon.

Differentiating pressure doors in coal plants is one example of ingenuity for PS Industries, creating a safer working environment. Hatches and airlock chambers are also on the list of specialized manufactured products. “Much of our international business is project-based and includes hatches to Brunei, doors to treatment facilities in Sri Lanka and Qatar, safety ladders in the UK, along with flooding products to Australia and Oman. We even have our products on a deep water oil platform,” Haaland says. While they export regularly, PS Industries does not have a dealer overseas. Instead, their focus on project-based customers has been quintessential to their success. With a good reputation, they also continue to build safety products for industrial settings. They have worked with mining groups in Chile, South Africa, and Peru on safety equipment.

Custom design work that have increased safety and design requirements has been well-received in the UK market. In addition, PS Industries looks to many European countries for a variety of future projects.

Like many exporters, shipping and supply chains were an issue throughout the global pandemic, and they continue to impact day-to-day operations. From not being able to source a specific pigment, to lengthy shipping delays, PS Industries has not been untouched. “The timing delays are frustrating,” explains Haaland, “everything is delayed, and when you are working on flood protection products, everybody wanted their products yesterday.” They had some larger clients get creative with deploying their own shipping networks, but many simply have to wait until the congestion eases.

When talking about exports, Haaland had a few pieces of advice:

  • Know your shipping terms and regulations.
  • Become familiar with trade associations like the NDTO and US Commercial Services.
  • Make friends in the exporting business. They have great knowledge to share.

The manufacturing industry can be challenging, especially with the current labor market, but, Haaland says, that is why PS Industries is glad to be in ND,  “the people that work here are good people, they work hard and care out the product they put out. They give extra.”

With the future on the horizon, PS Industries continues to generate its best ideas from their customers and pass that knowledge on to others, securing the safety of people and property. So much of what PS Industries produces goes unseen to the naked eye, but their impact is great because of what doesn’t happen. And for a company that is always looking for new ideas and the next niche market, the future is bright and vast.

Learn more about PS Industries at https://www.psindustries.com/

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. 
 
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Member Profile: North Central Commodities

Member Profile: North Central Commodities

Posted on May 5, 2022

North Central Commodities (NCC) was created to export since its inception, says Dylan Kalrey, General Manager since 2010. Based in Johnstown, ND, the Lindholm/Karley family has been operating both their own farm, Johnstown Bean Company, and North Central Commodities in the heart of ND since the 1970s.

Exporting was a necessity to gain better margins and expand, explains Karley, and NCC was originally the international marketing arm for Johnstown Bean Co. The company has grown to now take in bean varieties from all over ND and export them worldwide. Primarily, the group works with edible beans such as black and pinto beans directly sourced from ND farmers. NCC then cleans, processes, packages, and prepares the beans for wholesalers, restaurants, and other customers for anything larger than 50lb bags. They are flexible with sourcing other products, with experience in lentils, other types of pulses, and even oats from time to time.As a true ND company, NCC always tries to source from ND whenever possible.

The company has over 40 years of exporting experience, and with more than 15 years himself, Karley has a lot of stories to draw upon. His best advice for the exporter is that “Google can only get you so far!” He talks about how each country and each new market has its own particular set of nuances. “Many of the services [The NDTO] offers have really helped us throughout the years, and the STEP funding, which is new to us, was a really great opportunity,” says Karley. “There are so many services and tricks out there,” he explains, “ you just have to know where to look.” He explains that exporting is a little more work on the exporter, but NCC finds the margins and overall business is well worth the effort. Additionally, NCC has found that working internationally with companies that have never imported before provides a mutually beneficial opportunity. “We get to connect with new importers on a deeper level, helping them through the process with our own expertise. So we get to build loyalty and good communication throughout,” Karley says.

When it comes to exporting, NCC has found great success in Mexico with an outfit in Monterrey, which Karley finds himself visiting nearly every month. In fact, Australia and Antarctica are the only two continents NCC hasn’t sold beans to, but Australia is in their sights for the future.

“At the end of 2019, Mexico experienced a bean crop failure, and then with the pandemic hitting in early 2020, the whole pulse industry was a bit frantic. We worked as hard and as long as we could to get the job done, ” he says. The pandemic brought new hurdles for NCC as they had to ramp up production as many food markets changed and demand for their products increased quickly. And now, they found better ways of looking ahead and planning further out. Shipping has always been a challenge in the middle of ND, but much of their business can go overland via rail to their site in Mexico, which has been less disruptive than many overseas shipping.

Looking ahead, NCC is exploring new opportunities to become more sustainable in its practices. Karley explains that “beans as a whole, are a very sustainable crop and food source, but we are investigating packaging updates, cleaners, processing, and transportation methods. These are all things our end users are looking for, and we want to be able to deliver.”

NCC is certainly a company with a solid foundation in exporting ND products, and this long-lived passion for going global does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. With the endless challenges that go hand in hand with international business, Karley and NCC will continue to remain at the top of their game, exporting quality ND beans for many years.

Member Profile: ND Ethanol Council

Member Profile: ND Ethanol Council

Posted on February 1, 2022

The North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC) has been active since 2009 when the  ND State Legislature established it to promote ethanol in the state. A total of six plants are active across ND, including Blue Flint Ethanol, Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, Hankinson Renewable Energy, Red River Biorefinery, Red Trail Energy, LLC, and Tharaldson Ethanol Plant. As a relatively new industry in ND, the council promotes ethanol research, education, and market development across the state. Deana Wiese, the NDEC's Executive Director, Jeff Zueger,  NDEC Chairman and Chairman for Blue Flint, and  Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, and Keshav Rajpal of Red River Commodities all took some time to talk more about the ethanol industry in ND.

Zueger explains that he and his team had their eyes on ND as a primary location to build an ethanol plant back in the early 2000s, as regulations regarding clean and renewable standards were taking hold across the US. "The business culture and legislation were ripe with opportunity, and so many people were willing to help," says Zueger as Blue Flint was coming to fruition in Underwood, ND.

Another integral piece to stabilizing the ethanol industry in ND was the advancements in corn genetics which allowed for an 82-day growing period and hybrid corn well suited for ethanol production. "Growing corn with genetics that worked well in North Dakota essential, so once that happened, we knew would be a game-changer. We believed the corn varieties would come, and they did." described Zeuger.

Wiese emphasized the economic impact of corn growth across the state has been not only significant for the ethanol plants, but also the agriculture industry. "Five out of the six ethanol plants were built in small towns they reap the jobs and tax benefits. It also increases the quality of life for those communities," she says. Wiese goes on to explain additional benefits, like new schools being built in Richardson and Casselton. By having so much ethanol production in the state, many North Dakotans may not even realize that they enjoy lower-cost fuel with added ethanol, but it is an added benefit, says Wiese.

Most of ND ethanol is produced from corn, and anywhere from 40-60% of corn grown in ND goes towards ethanol production. The ethanol plants use more than 140 million bushels of corn each year, and 80% of that corn is grown in ND. In addition, Red River Biofuels in Grand Forks, ND, creates advanced ethanol from waste, including remnants from potato and sugar beet production. "We've been able to monetize waste into a usable commodity," says Rajpal. This plant also produces ethanol, but because it uses waste, it has a lower carbon output than other ethanol products. This edge has been vital for opportunities in export markets requiring lower carbon footprints.

Only about 10% of the ethanol produced in the state stays in ND. The rest is shipped by rail across state lines, either inside the US, or to Canada. There is an increasing ability for some of the low carbon ethanol to qualify under EU regulations, and the export of ND ethanol is fast approaching. "It's a lengthy process," says Rajpal, "but it allows us to access many new markets and arbitrage of new potential markets" Some of the best advice he has for exporters is to use your resources, take advantage of trade missions, and visit with international delegations to make new contacts. "The NDTO and the STEP (State Trade Expansion Program) program were very helpful for us, and we have several opportunities brewing as a result of these activities," says Rajpal. There are many applications for ethanol for the future, and ND plants are continuing to innovate and utilize ethanol and its byproducts in a variety of ways.

Distillers grain is a byproduct of ethanol production and is increasingly used by livestock producers for animal feed. The distiller's grain is high in protein and a good source of energy for cattle, dairy cows, swine, and some poultry. Tharaldson Ethanol announced in December 2021 a new feed facility to harness distillers grains and open a variety of new opportunities.  The feed is primarily geared toward pet foods and aquaculture feed uses with high protein needs.

Another venture for the ethanol plants in ND is CO2 storage. The geology of ND is well suited for underground storage of CO2, another byproduct of ethanol production. The intent is to lessen the amount of CO2 released into the air as a result of ethanol production. The CO2 can remain in the ground indefinitely and would lower the carbon footprint of the plants. Currently, projects are underway for Blue Flint and  Red Trail Energy, where C02 injections appear to be feasible.

As Wiese and Zueger reflect on the ND ethanol industry as a whole, innovation and ingenuity stick out as the driving forces behind the successful ethanol industry in the state. "North Dakota was doing ethanol before it was cool," explains Wiese, "the companies in North Dakota were able to move so quickly into the area because they had been exploring ethanol for some time. This group is always looking for new ways to optimize their assets." As they look to the future of the industry, Zueger says, "ethanol is what we are producing today. We will continue to progress, that ethanol molecule will move into other applications and other markets, and we will be ready for more than just transportation fuels."

As an environmentally friendly fuel, ethanol is being explored for a whole host of applications, and with the strong foundations the ND Ethanol Council has laid so far, ND will not be left behind in this innovative field. Rather, it will be leading it.

https://www.ndethanol.org/

NDTO Fall Happenings

NDTO Fall Happenings

Posted on December 1, 2021

Your NDTO has been busy! The team is working for you to expand global trade for ND businesses. It's been so great to connect with friends old and new, and we wanted to share the many things happening at the NDTO.

September

In September, NDTO hosted a delegation from the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), which included representatives from the Japanese government, as well as numerous Japanese businesses. While in ND,  the delegation met with Governor Burgum, Lieutenant Governor Sanford, Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, ND Dept. of Agriculture Director John Schneider, and  ND companies primarily in the energy sector. The mission was a success for both North Dakota and our Japanese partners.

The Big Iron Farm Show continued welcoming visitors in-person again this year, and the NDTO took the opportunity to meet with many members and participants throughout the show. In addition to visiting with exporters, NDTO hosted a small delegation from Liberia during the International Visitors Program. The Liberian delegation visited ND to learn more about farming practices and agriculture equipment.

Finally, in September, we welcomed Hataikarne Hearne, also known as Tai, to the NDTO team as an International Business Manager. She is an excellent addition to the team, with many years of experience in the finance sector, wholesale and resale businesses, and has an MBA from NDSU.

 

October

In October, the NDTO had the pleasure of hosting Members of Parliament from the Kenyan government for a tour across ND.  Our Executive Director, Drew Combs, led the delegation, introducing them to many companies across the state. During their visit, we were able to showcase many of the exciting advancements in technology, agriculture, ranching, and the beauty of ND.  They also had the opportunity to meet Lieutenant Governor Sanford, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, and many more as they traveled from Fargo all the way to Medora with many stops along the way.

In mid-October, Drew Combs and Lindsey Warner traveled to Chicago, IL, to connect with consulates of Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan. This was a great opportunity to meet impactful individuals from across the globe representing their respective countries and promote our great state and businesses.

Finally, David Bushby, Australia's Consul-General from Chicago,IL,  visited the ND state capital in mid-October and made connections with Lieutenant Governor Sanford, ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

November

The NDTO Roadshow started in September and continued throughout November as Jiwon Kim, and Tai Hearne hit the road and visited EDCs, new businesses, NDTO members and partners, and potential exporters. The NDTO team has continued to branch out and understand the needs of exporters in our state and how we can better serve them.

In mid-November, the NDTO team also hosted  Director Chin-Sung Cheng and Officer of the Economic Division Meg Chen from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago, IL. They were able to meet with Commerce Commissioner James Leiman and several businesses throughout eastern ND.

The NDTO is certainly not slowing down for the winter as the team is busy preparing for upcoming trade missions, reverse trade missions, educational programs, and the return of the Global Business Connections conference.

Stay tuned for more happenings at the NDTO, and have a safe and happy holiday NDTO Tseason.

Member Profile: Reinke Manufacturing Co.

Member Profile: Reinke Manufacturing Co.

Posted on October 1, 2021

Reinke Manufacturing is the world’s largest privately-held manufacturer of center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems. According to Dirk Monk, the International Technical Sales Manager, turning the Sahara Desert green is Reinke’s specialty. With all jokes aside, he pulls out before and after pictures of a potato farm in Egypt that was the desert you’d imagine, and then after the irrigation system was installed, the land was green, lush, and full of potato plants.

The company, since its inception, has had a knack for innovation, with the first reversible electric drive center pivot system and on to other sophisticated technology integrations. “We were the first company to have a mechanized irrigation system with fully functional GPS. The GPS principles have not needed modification in 15 years. That tells you just how accurate they were from the get-go,” explains Monk. Now, with even more technology integrations, farmers can turn on irrigation systems from miles away, bringing about shifts in the way we farm. “The older generations still want to be out on the farm, touch the crops, feel the soil and kick the dirt. Newer operations are run more like commercial farms, where people are hired for their specialties, agronomists, or farm managers to take care of their area of expertise.”  With connectivity to apps that measure and track weather, temperature, and soil moisture, soil probes will show a farmer exactly where and how much water is needed. With the right system in place, all the technology can make irrigation foolproof. Monk assists globally with system design and product placement with their international dealers, making sure Reinke’s products are well represented and fit the customer’s needs.

It is not a secret that much of the world is going through climate changes. Many parts of the world that only used irrigation as a supplement to rainfall now need consistent watering for their crops on a more frequent basis. This has been an opportunity for Reinke to show how the right irrigation system can make all the difference in crop yields. “Getting a system is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another,” Monk says, explaining that his role is to ensure the customer comes first, as a key to their success.

Being a family-owned business, they have many advantages over larger irrigation companies; Reinke has the ability to react and pivot quickly, which has been essential. The company is big enough to have a global footprint, stay competitive, and have the value-added technology and innovation to get buyers excited. “By being family-owned,  when we have a great opportunity, I don’t have to spend time calling board meetings, making long presentations to convince a group of a good opportunity. I just send a text message and get the okay that day,” explains Monk.

Just five years ago, Reinke’s international department was five people traveling all over the world visiting every tradeshow to showcase products. Now, Reinke has fifty-plus employees and warehouses in Argentina, South Africa, Romania, Bejing, and Australia. Developing business internationally is always a challenge, but there have been a few more obstacles to overcome with the pandemic. Face-to-face dealings are always preferred, so the pandemic has been a challenge in building new relationships.

Reinke was a recent participant of the Virtual Agriculture Machinery Mission facilitated by the NDTO, where companies were able to select target markets, and buyers were identified for potential sales. “This mission was incredibly useful, and the NDTO connected us with promising business partners to start building relationships. The virtual introductions are a good way to start these conversations, but we still need to follow up with face-to-face interactions,” says Monk.  Some cultures are more comfortable with virtual business deals, where others are more comfortable with in-person interactions.

Looking ahead, Reinke is facilitating opportunities for dealerships to engage globally, with strategic funding procedures to assist with sales through ExIm bank and how to mitigate the risk of working with global payments. “Financing is going to be a big player in our markets,” explains Monk, “historically, irrigation projects have not been done with large financing. But now that is changing.” Tools like ExIm bank and other programs can be a game-changer for dealers and customers. With these tools, there are more payment processing assurances, which can increase trust and decrease the risk for both sides.

Reinke continues to show their dedication to customers as Monk describes, “we are a value-added company, we don’t sell by the foot or by the meter, we want successful long-term partnerships with dealers and the end-users. The only way we can do that is to treat them fairly and well.” This tradition will surely continue as Reinke continues to expand internationally and make irrigation approachable.

For more information on Reinke Manufacturing, check out their website here.

Do I Need an Export License?

Do I Need an Export License?

Posted on October 1, 2021

The vast majority of exports fall under the US Dept of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the distinction of No License Required (NLR). But, awareness is key when exporting. Many people think it is required to have some sort of license to begin exporting, but this is not true. The type of export, destination, and the end-use of the export are the main factors for determining if an export license is required.

Why might one need a license to export? The license is a necessary regulatory check by the US government (and other governments who have their own rules) to understand the types of products leaving the US and how they might be used. The licensing can ensure that harmful goods are not put into the wrong hands or misused and should be considered as a protective measure.  Specific countries or buyers can be scrutinized, and in some cases, products cannot be legally exported to a particular buyers, no matter the export type.

Who, what, where, and how are essential questions to determine if an export license is needed. Each question will help to decide if further research or government regulations apply.

What are you exporting?

The Department of Commerce uses the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) to describe an export. Finding your ECCN on the  Commerce Control List (CCL) is a good first step to understanding if a license is needed. Identifying the export in the CCL will indicate any controls or restrictions on the product and identify where to look for the next step of identification.

If your export falls under the Dept of Commerce's purview and is not listed on the CCL, the export is considered an EAR99. An EAR99 distinction is typically a consumer good with low technology, the uses of which do not likely have a military use or cause harm. 

If a control number is present, it will be used along with the "commerce country chart" in the same box.

Where is the export going?

Governmental restrictions on a variety of countries exist but in varying degrees and for different exports. Embargoed counties are the most recognizable and have been designated as supporting terrorism.

Using Commerce's Country Chart will indicate if the export is allowed into that country without an export license. Scroll to find the country, and use the control number(s) from the CCL to find the correlating box. If the correlating box has an "x" in it, an export license is needed.  If there is no "x" under the concern and country box, then no export license is required for that destination.

The next question to ask is who will be receiving the exports and if any sanctions are placed on that country or purchaser.

Who is receiving the item?

Even if export licenses are not required for your export category, there still may be a license or regulation for a particular purchaser or country. Here is where the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) can come into play. OFAC has a variety of sanctions on specific countries and individuals. The Sanctions Programs and Country Information and the  Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person List provide additional detail to determine if you can export to a given country or purchaser.

Now that you know the basics on who, what, and where, we can explore how the export will be used.

How will it be used?

Understanding how the export can be used is also a determining factor of export licensing. If the export can be linked to the creation or use of weaponry or drug trafficking, restrictions often apply. The resources above offer indicators about potential harmful uses. When in doubt, it is best to contact the BIS for advice or an official ruling if a license would be required.

If it is determined that an export license is necessary, apply for the license through the BIS. An online system is available and offers faster service. Be aware that licenses typically expire every two years. No License Required (NLR) is a common indicator on products and is used on export documents if a license is not necessary. 

Although licenses are typically not required for many exporters,  it is good practice to understand why an export license may be necessary. Failure to comply with export licenses and restrictions can have costly consequences. Several software companies specializing in export compliance and regulations may be of use if your company needs a faster solution to export compliance and licensing. To save your company time, money, and future headaches, be sure to use the resources below and confirm your exports comply with export license regulations.

Resources:

Bureau of Industry and Security: Commerce Control List

Bureau of Industry and Security: Licensing

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Tech & Trade: Right to Repair

Tech & Trade: Right to Repair

Posted on October 1, 2021

The Right-to-Repair movement has been gaining traction across the US and Europe. The movement would include legislation allowing equipment owners access to tools, parts, and diagnostic equipment for basic repairs without the need for a certified technician.  In the US, President Biden and Federal Trade Commission seek updates to ease third-party repair restrictions with an executive order and a unanimous committee hearing vote in July 2021.

For this month’s Tech & Trade installment, let’s take a closer look at what it means to have the ability to repair products and the impacts this movement may have on global trade.

There are many items consumers often repair, such as automobiles and small appliances, but as the technology behind many goods becomes more sophisticated, so do the repairs. The technology in these products is more complex than ever, and if a consumer wants to make repairs, they are often denied the information, tools, or parts to do so, ultimately limiting the ability to extend the life of products or have choices in the repair process. Other issues on the Right-to-Repair movement revolve around software and design. Often, embedded software is unalterable or not customizable, and in some cases, products are created specifically not to accommodate any repairs. Right-to-Repair complaints are common with cell phones, and laptop repairs due to system locks and manufacturer updates preventing repairs and customization, a variety of other applications are impacted.

A closer-to-home example is the many tractors operated in ND and throughout the Midwest’s vast agricultural land; they have increasingly complex geographic navigation systems, engine controls, and so on. As time progresses, these tractors need repairs, and many manufacturers require a certified technician to make repairs and updates. This can be problematic for many farmers as certified repair professionals can be miles away, backed up with orders (especially during harvest season), and supplies of certified parts can fluctuate (as we have seen with the pandemic supply chain issues).  By requiring certified professionals, farmers can have whole fields go to waste, or harvests will be subpar by the time the equipment can be fixed (FTC Votes Unanimously to Fight Restrictions on Right to Repair, 2021).

Manufacturers of many products from cellphones and laptops to household appliances and large farm equipment will be impacted by the shifts many countries are mandating around the ability to repair such devices. Complexities are vast, as manufacturers defend control over their software security, emission compliance, and overall machine performance from individuals looking to customize. Manufacturers also have safety concerns that equipment could be overridden to compromise operational safety (Goode, 2021). The quality of replacement parts and repairs from unauthorized distributors is of concern, many not going through rigorous testing or meeting the original standards of quality from the manufactures. Larger companies have banded together, stating that their intellectual property and trade secrets are also at risk as legislation passes for more transparency for repairs.

Globally, several countries have taken approaches to mitigate e-waste and work with manufacturers to balance these issues. The ability to access repair technologies would allow for reduced waste globally, minimize throw-away culture, and have a better market for refurbished goods like cell phones. Increasing reuse of items will reduce a significant amount of e-waste to align with a more “circular economy,” keeping resources in use rather than recycled or thrown away. The UK’s Circular Economic Action Plan introduced in 2020 outlines the Right-to-Repair directives (Tyler, 2021). Throwing away technology because it can’t be repaired is expensive and wasteful; these items are currently broken down and piece-mealed for recycling at a fraction of the cost. Exporting the broken down recycling is also a common practice.  But, if repairs were more accessible, the UK estimates as many as 450,000 jobs could be added to the market, along with keeping tech and resources in the country (Harvey, 2021). The UK introduced right to repair rules in July 2021 to require manufactures to make spare parts available for personal devices, with a two-year grace period. The rules state that basic repairs with basic spare parts can be supplied to the consumers, but more complex repairs and parts will be provided only by professional repair people. The legislation, however, does not include all electronics. Laptops and smartphones have currently been excluded from the legislation passed in July. 

The European Union has long been concerned with repairs and called for manufactures to reduce waste and make products more energy efficient. The repairability of devices now fits into the reduction of waste directive. Many suppliers in the EU must furnish replacement parts for devices for ten years to professional repair specialists for many household appliances.

France has created a repairability index. This database requires manufacturers selling devices in France to provide a repairability score base on a range of criteria. The goal of the index is to inform consumers, shift buying habits and expand the lifespan of otherwise finite product use. The overall database serves as a litmus test, says Wired magazine, to empower manufacturers, companies, and consumers to provide more reparable and sustainable devices (Stone, 2021).

Other countries with less rigorous standards for replacement parts are seen as dumping grounds for low-quality parts, expressing the need for more regulations around repairs in countries such as South Africa (Kessel, 2021).

The ability to repair small to large products is an impactful topic across the globe and will continue to change trade for many manufactures, software companies, and device producers. With more regulation placed on these types of products, trade will become increasingly complex. Many factors are involved, including empowering consumers’ choices, the economic impact for manufacturers and consumers, increasing reuse and recycling, and compliance. Much more will be seen as legislation is made across the globe with our increasing reliance on machinery and technology not only in trade but also in our everyday lives.

References

FTC Votes Unanimously to Fight Restrictions on Right to Repair. (2021, July). Retrieved from WNAX News:
https://wnax.com/news/180081-ftc-votes-unanimously-to-fight-restrictions-on-right-to-repair/

Godwin, C.
(2021, July 7). Right to Repair Movement Gains Power in US and Europe.
Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57744091

Goode, L.
(2021, July 21). The FTC Votes Unamously to Enforce Right to Repair.
Retrieved from Wierd:
https://www.wired.com/story/ftc-votes-to-enforce-right-to-repair/

Harvey, F.
(2021, August 4). Repairing and Reusing Household Goods Could Create
Thousands of Green Jobs Across the UK
. Retrieved from The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/04/repairing-and-reusing-household-goods-could-create-thousands-of-green-jobs-across-the-uk

Kessel, S.
(2021, August 13). CRA Guest Column: Right to Repair; An Industy
Interepretation
. Retrieved from Repairer Driven News:
https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2021/08/13/cra-guest-column-right-to-repair-an-industry-interpretation/

Klosowski,
T. (2021, July 15). What You Should Know About Right to Repair.
Retrieved from New York Times- Wirecutter:
https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/what-is-right-to-repair/

Stone, M.
(2021, February 28). Why France’s New Tech ‘Repairability Index’ Is a Big
Deal
. Retrieved from Wired: 2021

The Right to
Repair Movement
. (2021, August 4). Retrieved from The Hindu: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/right-to-repair-movement/article35722520.ece

Tyler, N.
(2021, August 5). Right to Repair. Retrieved from New Electronics:
https://www.newelectronics.co.uk/electronics-blogs/right-to-repair/239372/

African Swine Fever Increasingly Threatens Pork in North America and Globally

African Swine Fever Increasingly Threatens Pork in North America and Globally

Posted on August 13, 2021

The African Swine Fever Virus (ASF) is a highly contagious hemorrhagic virus that exclusively infects pigs. Some farmers have experienced nearly 100% loss of herds, and the impact has expanded globally across Europe and Asia. In early August, the Dominican Republic identified two cases of ASF. Now that the virus has moved closer to the US, diligence to protect North American herds is more important than ever. The cases in the Dominican Republic are the first known detections of ASF in the Americas in  40 years, and there has never been a confirmed case in the US. Prevention, identification, and containment are the best ways to save the swine population from infection as there is no vaccine or treatment currently available.

"We need to take African Swine Fever seriously," says ND State Veterinarian and Animal Health Division Director Dr. Ethan Andress. "ND has a significant number of pigs, and although there is not a human risk, the economic and swine impact could be devastating both locally and nationally to the swine industry." Greater care should be taken from travelers and veterinarians to ensure proper sanitation to ensure infected items do not make it into the US. "We saw what happened in China with the devastation to their hog populations, we don't want that to happen here, and prevention is our best course of action," says Dr. Andress. The 2018 outbreak of ASF in China spread across the region and has reduced the global pig herds by nearly 25%, and they are now facing variants and additional waves.

"As the world opens up to international travelers, it is important that anyone visiting agriculture or food processing facilities take caution and thoroughly clean any items worn during their visit before returning to the US," says Drew Combs, the Executive Director of the North Dakota Trade Office.  These practices are essential to keeping unwanted viruses such as ASF from infecting other countries. The long lifespan of the virus contributes to the importance of good hygiene and sanitization of anything that could potentially come in contact with ASF.

What makes this virus particularly challenging to eradicate is its stability. Studies presented by the ND Livestock Alliance show that the virus can remain stable for 150 days in bones stored below 40⁰ F, 140 days in dried and salted ham, and can live for several years in frozen meat. The virus can also spread through animal feed and fertilizers. The incubation period is 5-21 days and can move more quickly when acquired by tick bites—the transmission from swine to swine occurs through bodily secretions and excretions, particularly through the nose and mouth. The animals, feed, and their products must be sanitized and closely monitored for spread.

Tamera Heins, the Executive Director of the ND Pork Council, explains, "security will be amped up in airports for any travelers from the Dominican Republic to ensure ASF does not get through."  Amber Boeshans, the Executive Director of the ND Livestock Alliance, highlights that the "African Swine Fever only causes illness in pigs and this is not a threat to human health. We want to continuously remind export partners and our consumers here at home that US pork products are safe to eat. However, the US hog industry moves around the country quite frequently. We all need to be doing our part to keep biosecurity as tight as possible. Following the best practices and going the extra mile to ensure we are minimizing this health risk to America's pig herd."  Making sure that clothing, especially shoes, are sanitized will be essential to keep this virus out of North America.

If ASF reaches the US, pork exports will cease, feed exports will also be halted, and swine sales will significantly decrease. There will also be impacts on the native herds with higher mortality rates, and commodity prices will see a deep drop in pork and feed-related products. Containment and diligence are needed to control borders. The US, Canada, and Mexico have already increased their efforts after the Dominican Republic outbreak.

Tackling ASF globally is a collaborative effort using both private and public resources to spread the word, not the virus. The measures put in place by the National Pork Industry Board should be followed to combat the exposure and spread of the virus. This includes sanitization of clothing, equipment, and other items used in the processing, research, laboratories, and fresh animal producers.

Resources:

Pork Industry Guidelines for International Travel and Biosecurity

Research Prioritizes African Swine Fever Prevention and Preparedness

African Swine Fever Inches Closer To The U.S. With Infections In Dominican Republic