Exports important for ND agriculture

Did you know that 95% of the world’s population exists outside U.S. borders, 80% of the buying power is outside our borders and 92% of the middle-class growth is projected to happen outside of the U.S. in the next three decades? According to the United Nations, the world population is projected to be 9.8 billion by the year 2050. Marketing North Dakota agricultural products around the world will continue to be important for decades to come.

North Dakota is already the No. 10 exporter of agricultural products in the U.S., with more than $4.3 billion in tracked sales in 2020. This number doesn’t include bulk commodities, which are the majority of North Dakota exports. Canada and Mexico are the leading export markets for North Dakota agricultural products. Other top destinations include Vietnam, Thailand, China, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and India. North Dakota has exported agricultural products to more than 150 countries worldwide.

Several things will help us continue to be top exporters of agricultural products, including building relationships, agricultural research, a reliable transportation infrastructure and beneficial trade agreements.

Building relationships is a crucial step in getting our products to other countries. Each country has a goal and a vision for their country. We can help build on their vision by sharing and exchanging ideas and information. Many times we do that by traveling there and exploring the market through trade missions. Trade missions allow us to meet with country officials, visit private business owners and look at facilities that are processing and/or distributing our products. Partnering with the North Dakota Trade Office, Food Export Midwest, USDA Foreign Ag Service and local business organizations in the host country can help find potential partners for North Dakota businesses, which expands markets for our products and creates jobs in our state.

Agricultural research is important to ensure that we continue to produce more food, feed, fiber and fuel on the same land with fewer resources. Research improves crops to make them durable, sustainable, and resistant to stress and pests. It can enhance their quality and nutrition and increase yields.

A reliable transportation infrastructure will make sure we get our products to the individuals that need them most. Currently, North Dakota sends 83% of grain and oilseed shipments by rail and 17% by truck. Our commodities are transported for processing or export, near or far, where they then continue on by ship. We need to make sure these networks continue to be reliable and efficient.

Trade agreements are also very important to lower trade barriers and allow more countries to purchase our food. Trade agreements help lower restrictions for U.S. products, giving U.S. exporters better access to international markets.

Agricultural exports account for 20% of farmers’ and ranchers’ gross receipts nationally. Given that a larger percentage of North Dakota’s commodities are utilized globally, we have a larger percentage of exports that contribute to our gross receipts. In 2020, North Dakota agriculture had 8.1 billion in gross receipts. With at least 4.3 billion in tracked sales, exports account for more than 50% of our gross receipts. Exports will continue to be important for North Dakota agriculture, not only to feed the growing population but to diversify the bottom line for our farmers, ranchers and businesses and make them less dependent on the ups and downs of the domestic economy and the tastes of the U.S. consumer.


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