Press Release: Big Iron International Visitors Program Draws Participants Despite Trade Challenges
Posted on September 11, 2018
North Dakota is hosting over 50 international visitors from more than 10 countries this week as part of the Big Iron International Visitors Program, the portion of the Big Iron Farm Show connecting international agriculture equipment buyers with North Dakota businesses. The International Visitors Program (IVP) runs Sept. 10-13 and is organized by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) with the cooperation of the U.S. Commercial Service.
International delegates arrived over the weekend and were welcomed on Monday, September 10 with a tour and reception at NDSU Agriculture and Extension's Agronomy Seed Farm in Casselton. The Big Iron IVP continues throughout the week with participants meeting one-on-one with North Dakota companies and attending the Big Iron Farm Show, farm tours and educational sessions.
Delegations from countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Ukraine are currently meeting with equipment dealers and agribusiness professionals to learn more about North Dakota agricultural practices and technology, and purchase equipment. Sales conversations are taking place despite the challenges of reciprocal tariffs and the increase in visa denials for potential buyers coming to the U.S. This year's Big Iron IVP received a record number of registrants, however a higher refusal rate of visitor visas for entry into the country will keep the overall program numbers down.
"Despite the trade issues that have left U.S. exporters with questions and uncertainty, we have pushed forward and are honored to welcome visitors from around the world to the 12th annual Big Iron International Visitors Program," said Simon Wilson, executive director of the NDTO. "Our team has worked diligently to help as many visitors as possible obtain visas so that North Dakota exporters may continue to transact business and promote their high-quality products to meet global demand. We're fortunate to meet this year's delegates and grateful for the assistance we received from our partner, the U.S. Commercial Service."
Big Iron international visitors are recruited through the U.S. Commercial Service's office in Fargo and via their branch locations throughout the world.
"We initially reach out to our in-country staff at the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in over 50 countries, seeking those countries and buyers who have a need for the kind of 'Big Iron' we specialize in here in the Upper Midwest," said Heather Ranck, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Fargo, ND. "Our overseas offices use their on-the-ground knowledge to find qualified buyers who have the interest and ability to purchase U.S. farm equipment."
North Dakota company participants include agricultural equipment manufacturers and dealers, agriculture service providers, commodity storage and processing equipment manufacturers, educational institutions and research specialists.
NDTO is a member-based, public-private organization dedicated to expanding North Dakota's exports through advocacy, education and expertise. All trade missions and reverse trade missions are designed to assist North Dakota companies in finding potential partners and making overseas sales; these initiatives are open to the public.