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

Shipping Solutions: No, You Probably Don't Need an Export License, But...

US Department of Treasury:  Sanctions Programs and Country Information

US Department of Treasury: Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN) Human Readable Lists

Bureau of Industry and Security: Frequently Asked Questions to Export Licensing Requirements

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

ND Officials Return from a Successful Mission in Qatar and Turkey

ND Officials Return from a Successful Mission in Qatar and Turkey

Posted on July 20, 2021

FARGO, ND - ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, and North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) Executive Director Drew Combs returned from a successful mission in Qatar and Turkey. NDTO team worked closely with Qatari and Turkish counterparts to ensure a successful mission which included several ND companies with interests in expanding relationships internationally into the region.

The mission was intended to build on NDTO's relationships with Qatar and Turkey that started during the pandemic to create a lasting footprint for the future. The NDTO coordinated a two-part mission, which was completed late last week. Commissioner Goehring and Commissioner Leiman, both NDTO board members, played essential roles in representing ND. "North Dakota is experiencing growing opportunities in multiple sectors," says Commissioner Goehring. "It is a privilege to emphasize all North Dakota has to offer the global marketplace."

Commission Leiman appreciated the opportunity to join the mission to build on a variety of investment opportunities in Qatar and Turkey, saying, "I don’t think this mission could have gone any better. We are looking forward to building many new avenues for businesses in ND."

Over the past year," the NDTO has a budding relationship with Qatar and Turkey, and this was a perfect opportunity to build on those relationships and create a solid foundation for the future with our new friends," says Combs. 

While in Turkey, connections were made with the Turkish Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Industry and Technology, and Ministry of Trade. Other prominent business meetings were held with energy, agriculture, and technology leaders. Both ND and Turkish businesses shared ideas on how to best partner for the future on a variety of projects.

Following Turkey was the Qatari leg of the mission. Meetings with government officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Free Trade Zones Authority,  Qatar Investment Authority, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, and Qatar Stock Exchange. Qatari business people with agriculture, energy, and technology expertise welcomed the ND delegation throughout the week of meetings. The meetings focused on the exciting things happening in the state across several industries, as well as the many opportunities for partnership that will increase synergy between ND and Qatar.

"I can certainly say that the hospitality shown by the Qatari government was phenomenal, and we made many new and long-lasting connections," says Combs. Highlighting the success of the mission in both Qatar and Turkey, coupled with the ND businesses traveling with the delegation, there are many opportunities to thrive in the increasingly globalized world. The mission was a success in creating more bridges for communication, idea exchanges, investment opportunities, and cross-pollination for many ND companies in the future. As the world begins to open up and travel is becoming more available, NDTO and ND will continue to engage internationally and promote the state’s abundance in resources to increase ND’s global footprint.

 

Member Profile: Valley Express Inc.

Member Profile: Valley Express Inc.

Posted on June 30, 2021

From humble beginnings of hauling potatoes in the upper midwest, Valley Express Inc. has grown into a multidimensional global logistics company. With roots well planted in their ND home office, they started as a freight brokerage company that has expanded its services across several locations throughout the US. And through all their growth, Valley Express has maintained an impeccable reputation for consistency.

Within hours of asking if the team would be interested in speaking with NDTO for this article, I had four of their team members on a video call ready to tell me all about their dynamic approach to transportation and logistics. Overwhelmingly responsive is the best way to describe this team of hardworking and approachable professionals. Glenn Nelson, Chief Financial Officer, Wayne Larson, VP- Global Markets, Ian Nicks, VP Intermodal Logistics, and Amie O'Connor VP Global Operations, showed how their web of connectivity for imports and exports results in a highly effective model to benefit all.

Valley Express/ Worldwide moves around $70 million in freight revenue annually. They have grown and added value to their customers along the way with Valley Express, Valley Logistics Solutions, Valley Intermodal Solutions, and more. "Each one of our additional diversifications, like intermodal, has helped us become stronger and more responsive to the local community and customers," says Nelson. He goes on to explain that "just about everything we do comes from a 300-mile radius of the Fargo Moorhead area. We really are supporting this community with their freight needs." Valley Express has participated in trade missions, reverse trade missions, and STEP-funded opportunities with the NDTO throughout the years. These experiences have helped them better understand the business and build upon their connections.

"The intention was always to grow Valley Worldwide to support other aspects of the business and facilitate Valley Intermodal," explains Nicks. "Their goal is to grow to the point where our own fleet can handle our own containers through the Valley Worldwide office and vice versa, so that everything is all tied together." Nicks say that one of the biggest headaches he hears from exporters/importers is that they are often surprised by the many parties involved in moving the goods. Valley's role is to help clarify and simplify the process. "What Valley is building is a one-stop-shop. All a customer needs to do is call Valley, and that is it. They [customers] don't have to know anything about import/export documentation or if they need an AES [Automated Export System] filing. They don't have to know who is draying their container, or if there is a container shortage, and how to navigate that," says Nicks.   Customers typically come to Valley Express/ Worldwide in need of trucking services, but this relationship often evolves with the variety of integrated services offered.  The team can navigate all of the specificity of shipping seamlessly without confusing the customers.

Larson, who is based in Duluth, MN, explained that Valley Express/ Worldwide grew close partnerships with the Duluth Seaport Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing to help open an intermodal facility in 2017. The intermodal facility was a game-changer for many businesses, from seeing five containers coming into port weekly to seeing over one hundred. "Part of that is working directly with the Port Authority and Superior Warehousing," Larson explains "we can offer all types of services from freight forwarding, trucking, warehousing, and trans-loading to benefit many companies." A Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) services are also available on-site. US Customs inspections can often be scheduled the next day and take about 15 minutes. This helps to ease the timing and paperwork for many importers.

With its network of connections, Valley Express/ Worldwide has a competitive edge to help customers ship goods more efficiently. They can accommodate heavy commodity weight containers coming through the Duluth Port. The excess weight that is too heavy for roads can be stored and repacked to a manageable road weight and then shipped overland to their final destination. Companies can significantly reduce shipping costs overseas by shipping an overweight container via sea and then repacking it for road weight.

O'Connor manages operations at the Minneapolis, MN office and was described as "the epitome of operational excellence and keeping us all on the straight and narrow," says Nelson. The Minneapolis facility is an FDA-certified warehouse. Their space is also available for projects or to hold items for inventory management. The flexibility with this space is a valuable tool and can help supplement the customer's needs. In addition, O'Connor says, "our team specializes in making it easy for our importers and exporters. They don't do this every day,  and we do! If we can take this portion of their business off their hands and make it simple, we are happy to."

The Minneapolis intermodal trucking fleet operates between 40-50 owner-operators on any given day. Many of these operators are doing one to two loads per day throughout the region. With a "street-turn," meaning when full load is brought to its end destination and then can be reloaded with an export, it can then be brought back to Minneapolis full and ready for export again. The ability to do the street-turns has been invaluable for both companies to reduce costs and move goods more quickly. Valley Intermodal touches between 1000-1200 containers per month out of Minneapolis, many of which can be reused/reloaded or repositioned where they are needed. In Duluth, they are able to match the imports and exports with 50 containers going in and out each week.

Valley Express/ Worldwide is the most extensive intermodal fleet in the state of ND. "Our owner operations and their trucks have Valley Express on the doors. They are running under our licenses, insurance, authority, and their trailers are purchased from us, so we have created a structure where we can say yes to a truck that wants to come on. So we can grow for the customers quite quickly," explains Nelson. The team continues to increase their networking and have contacts in pretty much every location they have freight coming or going. As active members of the International Freight and Logistics Network (IFLN), the alliance is an invaluable resource and provides added security when shipping globally.

Valley Express/ Worldwide continues to grow and serve the community in ND to help build connections, cooperate with many businesses, and aims to simplify logistics for everyone. "Our customers don't have to be experts in international logistics. They just have to have our phone number," says Nicks, and the whole team nods and smiles.

For more information on Valley Express/Worldwide, see their video and visit their website here.

Exporting in the Time of COVID 19- Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

Exporting in the Time of COVID 19- Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

Posted on June 30, 2021

For our last edition in the series of Exporting in the Time of COVID-19, we revisit subjects from our previous topics and look towards the future with lessons learned as more information becomes available. While some of us are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, there are many countries still in the midst of the fight. Keeping that in mind, there are many lessons to be learned so far, and how we can all continue to find ways to rebound and be more resilient in light of this ongoing global pandemic

Global cooperation has become essential on so many levels, including government, for and non-profit businesses, and private and public sectors, to find innovative approaches to keep forward momentum. Teamwork is vital as companies collaborate to spur each other's success. Maham Siddique said it well, when speaking about supply chain resiliency, that "connectivity, transparency, technology, and flexibility will empower buyers and suppliers… The resiliency-building lessons learned from the pandemic have taught us that establishing collaborative solutions can drive better trade outcomes (Teamwork 'Key to Overcome COVID-Induced Trade Hurdles', 2021)." She goes on to highlight four resiliency tactics for the future that every business should know - how their own supply chain works, how to embrace technology, having transparency in business, and how to flexible. All of these items can be identified and utilized to better prepare for the next global disruption – and all experts say there will be another one.

Supply Chains

Much was learned in the supply chain and logistics arena from the pandemic. Nimble and agile became two of the descriptors of successful transportation and logistics companies coming through the pandemic. Teamwork, agility, and re-routing goods and supplies became essential to navigate the continuously changing logistics environment during the pandemic. Traditionally, supply chain experts were trained to focus on efficiency and low-cost solutions, but the pandemic forced a paradigm shift taking risk management into account. Evaluating procurement costs, lead times, and material sourcing alongside profitability became essential (Phillips, 2021).  Adopting many digital technologies has become a clear advantage for companies that invested in these products long ago. They now have the intelligence and metrics to determine better logistical operations over their products.

Companies that initially saw a wide gap and disruptions in their supply chains talked early on about potential reshoring or nearshoring operations to provide more control. For many, this has not shown the be the case. Very few companies have taken the steps to re-shore. Better visibility of their supply/value chains and upgrading their logistics processes have proven to do the trick for many and will pay off in the long run.

Trade Policy

With many initial reactions to the pandemic, governments took steps to protect themselves before looking to their neighbors and beyond. Protectionism became a concern with policies focused on reactions to the pandemic in the immediate and not considering the breadth and depth that the pandemic could have globally. A year-plus later, we see that this is not the case. As pandemic restrictions started to ease, the collaboration between governments has started to increase.

Policy shifts will likely be seen as the vaccine rollout becomes more successful. Humanitarian and social programs are increasingly needed globally as food access, agriculture, small businesses and manufacturing industries start rebuilding. The process and structure will look very different depending on the country and the government's focus. We will likely see shifts less concerned with protectionist goals and more emphasis on expansion or loosening of tariffs on certain goods as humanitarian aid increases.

The UN Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) suggests that global trade should focus on climate change actions and developing programs to prioritize people and the environment (Make Trade More Sustainable and Inclusive, Leaders Say, 2021). Hopefully, these priorities of building up developing nations and increasing green energy and climate change initiatives will build towards a better future for the greater good.

Food Insecurity

Globally, there are several counties on the brink of famine, according to the UN World Food Program. The food supply was initially of concern, but as more research has come to light, access to food is a more significant problem in struggling countries. The food supply is available, but for many, it is not affordable. In many countries, food is supplied by small-scale farmers in local markets, and not the large production and complicated supply chain structures we see in the US. As lockdowns and public gathering restrictions were enforced, many local markets were unable to operate. Small-scale farming operations across the globe were more heavily impacted because of the structure of distribution and sales. Low and middle-income countries have been the most affected by hunger historically. What has been a predominantly rural issue now is seen throughout urban low and middle-income areas. The pandemic has increased hunger in urban areas dramatically due to job and wage instability.  (Sova, 2021)

With 50% of pre-pandemic food consumption coming from restaurants, this industry was hard-hit in developed countries. Overall, when the pandemic started to grip the world, many food-related businesses were making short-term adjustments, planning for a few weeks or months. As time when on, those adaptations had to become long-term fixtures. It is often easier to adjust for the short term, explains Brandon Barholt, president of KeHe Distributors, an Illinois bases fresh food distributor. A surprise he noted was that small manufacturers were more agile than anticipated, especially when compared to larger food manufacturers.  (Johns, 2021). The increase in at-home meal consumption, experts say, is likely here to stay. This is explained by a whole generation that did not know how to cook and was now forced to. Additionally, with income still an issue for many, eating out is a luxury that can wait. The pre-pandemic split of 50% restaurant food consumption and 50% at-home food consumption is not likely to return quickly in the US. While the US and other developed countries are not seeing empty shelves anymore, grocers are opting for a more focused inventory, ensuring staples are readily available. Many new products will be limited as grocers become more comfortable with the new buying habits of consumers. Hunger and food insecurity are still prominent in the developed nations, as access and rising food prices are likely to increase over time.

In 2021, many countries and communities will continue to struggle to put nutritious food on the table, warns the UN. Rising food prices are a limiting factor for families across the globe and will continue to be a major hurdle for the foreseeable future. Humanitarian aid, non-profits, and governments will need to embrace many tools to combat the struggles to reduce food insecurities.

Uneven Recovery

International businesses overall fared better than their solely domestic businesses. Global connectedness has been attributes as a key source of success for international firms, but also made international companies more susceptible to the initial pandemic shocks. After the early shock of the pandemic, international firms had multifaceted efforts to respond - employing several tactics like working remotely, adapting products, finding new suppliers, and in some cases loaning out workers to other manufacturing firms (Borino, Carlson, Rollo, & Solleder, 2021). Soley domestic businesses employed many of the same tactics but had fewer options to adjust within their borders.

Downstream supply challenges for many businesses are still a concern. Slow production capacity hampers some of the previously available goods to deliver products to consumers. Wood shortages, for instance, mean that shipping palettes are still in short supply, causing some manufactures to cut back production. Other companies have adapted to new packaging and other staples to move forward despite the shortages (Johns, 2021).

For example, the manufacturing industry is picking up in the UK. It is reported to have the highest growth rate since 1994, including orders, employment, and output (Drives and Controls, 2021). Keeping this momentum going will be a continued battle with embracing greener technologies set forth by UK governments and maintaining a competitive edge with other industrial and manufacturing powerhouses. The UK rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic and succeeded. Keeping the drive from the pandemic will be the key to maintaining greater global competitiveness for the UK manufacturing industry.

The global pandemic is still running amok for many countries, and now more than ever, a call to action for philanthropic endeavors is needed. There is a lot of potential for companies to join in on the continuing pandemic fight. Filipi explores how to identify a niche that your company may be able to fill and promote philanthropy across your organization (Filipi, 2021). We saw many manufacturers in the Midwest transition their production lines for PPE creation or hand sanitizers. This type of ingenuity is still needed as we continue to move through the pandemic waves.

Although resilience and adaptation remain at the forefront of recovery, there is still a long road ahead. Many industries, including food and manufacturing, are overall struggling to fill job vacancies hampering rebound. Additional surges and vaccination rates continue to impact countries across the globe, with travel restrictions still in effect throughout many parts of the world. Many economists and leaders are predicting continued challenges through 2021. However, through continued support, collaborative efforts, and transparency, recovery is happening, although it is a marathon, not a sprint.

References

Borino, F., Carlson, E., Rollo, V., & Solleder, O. (2021, April 30). International firms: More exposed but more resilient during Covid-19. Retrieved from VOX EU: https://voxeu.org/article/international-firms-more-exposed-more-resilient-during-covid-19

De Bellefonds, C. (2021, June 11). 7 Lessons We've Learned From This Pandemic to Remember for the Next One. Retrieved from Self: https://www.self.com/story/pandemic-lessons

Drives and Controls. (2021, June 15). Retrieved from We Must Apply the Lessons fo COVID to the Future: https://drivesncontrols.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/6750/We_must_apply_the_lessons_of_Covid_to_the_future.html

Filipi, F. (2021, June 23). Lessons Learned from Pandemic Responses that Leverage Philanthropy. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2021/06/23/lessons-learned-from-pandemic-responses-that-leverage-philanthropy/?sh=5b0d69b37851

Harvey, F. (2021, February 15). Risk of Global Food Shortages Due to COVID has Increased, Says UN Envoy. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/15/risk-of-global-food-shortages-covid-increased-un-envoy-agnes-kalibata?CMP=share_btn_tw

Johns, M. (2021, June 11). One Year Later: Lessons Learned in the Food Supply Chain. Retrieved from BMO Capital Markets: https://capitalmarkets.bmo.com/en/news-insights/food-consumer-retail/covid-19-insights/one-year-later-lessons-learned-food-supply-chain/

Make Trade More Sustainable and Inclusive, Leaders Say. (2021, June 16). Retrieved from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: 2021

Pearson, J., & Altman, S. A. (2021, May 18). How DHL Express Navigated the Pause — and Rebound — of Global Trade. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2021/05/how-dhl-express-navigated-the-pause-and-rebound-of-global-trade

Phillips, S. (2021, May 15). How COVID-19 Took the Supply Chain to a New Place. Retrieved from Global Trade Magazine: https://www.globaltrademag.com/how-covid-19-took-the-supply-chain-to-a-new-place/

Sova, C. (2021, April 2). After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Retrieved from UN World Food Program: https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/after-one-year-of-covid-19-what-lessons-have-we-learned-about-hunger/

Teamwork 'Key to Overcome COVID-Induced Trade Hurdles'. (2021, June 9). Retrieved from Trade Arabia Business News and Information: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/REAL_383327.html