FARGO, N.D. – More than 100 international delegates from 14 countries visited North Dakota last week to attend the Big Iron International Visitor’s Program, the international portion of the Big Iron Farm Show designed to assist the state’s agribusinesses in expanding their international sales. The program, which ran Sept. 10-13, is facilitated by the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO).
“North Dakota’s rich agricultural heritage has made our state a world leader in agribusiness, and the Big Iron International Visitors Program enables North Dakota companies to demonstrate their agricultural expertise to serious international buyers,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “It’s a great way to leverage the draw of the Big Iron Farm show and build on the growing demand for North Dakota’s high-quality products.”
In addition to touring Big Iron, international guests attended in-field equipment demonstrations, farm and ranch tours, educational discussions, buyer-seller receptions and other events as part of the International Visitors Program coordinated by NDTO.
Thirty North Dakota companies took taking part in the program, now in its sixth year, to connect directly with international buyers. These companies consist of agricultural machinery manufacturers and a wide variety of agribusiness companies including seed producers and distributors, food-grade commodity producers, agriculture service providers, commodity storage and handling systems, livestock producers as well as educational institutions and researcher specialists.
“Each year, North Dakota becomes more widely known around the world for our innovative agribusiness solutions,” said Dean Gorder, Executive Director of NDTO. “International visitors turn to North Dakota for cutting-edge equipment, value-added foods, seeds, crop handling and education. The Big Iron International Visitors Program is designed to address all these international agribusiness needs and help facilitate international business relationships.”
Countries represented at Big Iron 2012 were from Australia Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Holland (the Netherlands), Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Ukraine and Uruguay.
NDTO managed the International Visitors Center in the newly-renovated Schollander Pavilion on the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. The International Visitors Center provides a place for visitors to meet with local company representatives in private meeting rooms, take advantage of volunteer interpreters, and enjoy refreshments and Internet access.
In addition, NDTO led their international guests on eight educational livestock and crop facility tours on Sept. 12 and 13.
NDTO 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 600 international visitors from over 25 countries.
The Big Iron International Visitors Program is part of a larger strategy to promote North Dakota’s high quality products in key international markets throughout the world. According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, North Dakota’s merchandise exports have grown nearly 235 percent since the conception of NDTO, from $1 billion in 2004 to $3.4 billion in 2011.
Big Iron, held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, features more than 800 exhibitors and attracts approximately 80,000 visitors annually.
NDTO is a member-based organization that provides education, research, advocacy, organization and leadership so that North Dakota companies can develop and expand their export business. NDTO is a public-private partnership, led by a board of directors, chaired by North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley.