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NDTO News Article

Fifth Anniversary of Big Iron International Visitors Program Draws International Buyers from More Than 10 Countries

The North Dakota Trade Office hosted a large delegation of international visitors from around the world Sept. 12-15, 2011,  at the fifth annual Big Iron International Visitors Program, the international portion of the Big Iron Farm Show, designed to assist the state’s agribusinesses in expanding their international sales.

Approximately 140 buyers of agricultural products from more than 10 countries attended the Big Iron Farm Show and a week of programs designed to connect buyers from around the world with North Dakota’s agribusinesses. 

“The Big Iron International Visitors Program has enabled North Dakota companies to demonstrate their agricultural expertise to serious buyers from around the world,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.  “It’s a great way to leverage the draw of the Big Iron Farm show to build on the growing demand for North Dakota products.”

In addition to Big Iron, international guests attended equipment demonstrations, farm and ranch tours, buyer-seller receptions and other events as part of the International Visitors Program coordinated by the North Dakota Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service. 

This year, more than 30 North Dakota companies that are experienced exporters took part in the program.  These companies consisted of not only agricultural machinery manufacturers but a wide variety of agribusiness industries including seed producers and distributors, food-grade commodity producers, agriculture service providers, commodity storage and handling systems and, educational institutions and livestock producers and researchers.

Visitors traveled from some of North Dakota’s key global markets including Romania, Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia to participate in the program.

Unlike in past years when the concentration of visitors was from the former Soviet Union countries, this year’s largest delegations were from Romania and Uruguay.  The Romanian delegation, led by the Romanian Group for Investment and Consulting (RGIC) is an example of the Big Iron International Visitors Program’s success.

“RGIC visited Big Iron in 2009 with the goal of modernizing Romanian farming methods to help develop export markets in Europe,” Trade Office Executive Director Dean Gorder said. “Today RGIC is in the process of buying a wide array of products including agricultural equipment, grain storage facilities and seed products from North Dakota companies to help approximately 500 Romanian farmer’s improve their operations.  Our North Dakota companies are increasing their international exports while helping farmers across overseas become more sustainable.”

The North Dakota Trade Office also managed the International Visitors Pavilion, a place for international guests to meet with local company representatives in private meeting rooms, take advantage of  volunteer interpreters, enjoy meals and refreshments as well as Internet access to help facilitate their business.  In addition, NDTO led educational livestock and crop tours for interested parties.

“Our visitors take part in the program because they want to become better equipped and more knowledgeable about large-scale farming and ranching,” Gorder said. “There continues to be a growing international interest in North Dakota’s agricultural know-how.” 

The North Dakota Trade Office began hosting international buyers during the Big Iron Farm Show in 2007, following a trade mission that brought several leaders from North Dakota agricultural equipment companies to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia.  Since the inception of the Big Iron International Visitors Program, the event has hosted over 500 international visitors from over 20 countries. 

 “We continue to build and improve on the program because it has proven effective in developing lasting business relationships with key buyers from around the world and expanding our exporters’ global business opportunities” Gorder said. 

The program is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota’s high quality products to key international markets throughout the world.  The state has been successful in the initiative; North Dakota’s merchandise exports have grown in value from $1.2 billion in 2005 to $2.5 billion last year – a 100 percent increase, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics. 

Big Iron, held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, features more than 800 exhibitors and attracts approximately 80,000 visitors annually.