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Published September 17 2009

Forum editorial: Big Iron is bigger than ever

When the Big Iron Farm Show wraps up later today, it will have been one of the most successful three-day runs in the 29-year history of the event. Nearly 80,000 were expected to go through the gates at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds near West Fargo.

Big Iron is always a major ag exhibition, but this year was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the weather was as good as it can be in mid-September. Big Iron regulars know rain and cool weather often could be counted on during the show’s run. Not this year. Summer-like temperatures and light winds made for perfect conditions for exhibitors and visitors.

Second, and more important than the weather, the contingent of foreign visitors underscored the role of farm machinery exports. Several of the companies displaying their equipment count the biggest share of the sales in overseas markets. More than 150 buyers and others from 15 foreign nations attended this year’s show, not because they were tourists, but because they wanted to see the latest in American and Canadian farm machinery.

Six hundred exhibitors with a combined 800 exhibits understand the value of overseas markets. Many of them work closely with the North Dakota Trade Office to advance sales, master the complexities and vagaries of the export market and develop relationships among manufacturing representatives and potential buyers. The success of that effort has been impressive. North Dakota exports, including farm equipment, have been on an upward trend for several years.

Big Iron is an important part of the export push. It provides foreign buyers and representative of foreign governments (often the buyers) to get hands-on opportunities to examine new farm equipment, see it in action and even start the purchase process. For the exhibitors, the show brings together in one grand location on the Northern Plains not only potential foreign buyers but also American farmers. And for many manufacturers, the U.S. farmer is still the most important component of the market.

Big Iron closes at 5 p.m. today. It’s been a good show – some veterans of the event say one of the best. The exhibition is geared toward farmers and equipment manufacturers, but it’s a fascinating place for the nonfarmer, too. A stroll through the grounds reveals an amazing variety of the latest machines and technologies available to the men and women who grow food and fiber for the world. Go out and take a look today. You will be impressed.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.