Hoeven Working to Support Rural Businesses Through Exports, Access to New Markets

Senator, CS Director General Tour WCCO Belting in Wahpeton, Highlight Farm Bill Rural Export Programs

WAHPETON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Director General Arun Kumar for a tour of WCCO Belting, Inc. in Wahpeton to see a successful North Dakota export business and to enlist the Commercial Service’s help in developing and expanding markets for rural exporters. Hoeven later joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and the director general for a tour of Titan Machinery in Moorhead, Minn. and a roundtable with regional business leaders to discuss opportunities and challenges facing rural exporters.

Hoeven worked on the Appropriations Committee to fund the Commercial Service budget, which has trade professionals in more than 75 countries and over 100 U.S. cities, including Fargo where Heather Ranck helps regional companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets.

WCCO Belting is the largest agricultural belting manufacturer in the world. Approximately 60 percent of WCCO’s revenue comes from international clients, and the company has worked enthusiastically to increase their exports around the world. The CS has helped WCCO Belting research markets, line up potential overseas clients and provide customized market and industry briefings. The company has also participated in trade shows and trade missions.

The senator also serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development, where he works to support programs that encourage economic growth in rural areas by providing services such as technical and marketing assistance, as well as low interest loans and grants to rural businesses, farmers and ranchers.

In addition to his work on the Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has also worked to support programs to promote rural trade as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Hoeven served on the joint Senate-House farm bill conference committee that negotiated the final version of the farm bill, which included key export programs.

  • The Market Access Program (MAP) provides $200 million in matching funds to promote rural agricultural industries and products. MAP helps to build global markets for a wide variety of farm and food products. Thirty-two North Dakota companies receive a match from the program.
  • The Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), which was reauthorized in the 2014 farm bill, provides $34.6 million in matching funds to nonprofit commodity or trade associations to aid in the expansion of export markets for U.S. agricultural products. FMDP-funded projects usually address opportunities to reduce foreign import restrictions and promote free and fair markets.

“Since 2001, North Dakota’s exports have grown by 361 percent, to $3.7 billion in 2013, and companies like WCCO Belting are a good example of why,” Hoeven said. “For more than a decade, our businesses in North Dakota have worked in partnership with state and federal officials to access new markets and grow our economy. Those efforts have helped to grow exports for a range of North Dakota industries, including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy and others.”

As Governor of North Dakota, Hoeven worked to create the North Dakota Trade Office and helped to arrange international trade trips, including trips to Taiwan, China and Eastern Europe, for a range of products produced in the state. As a member of the U.S. Senate, Hoeven worked in 2011 to forge an agreement to pass a bipartisan Trade Adjustment Assistance reform bill as well as three long-pending free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, which represent more than $13 billion in increased economic activity for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and ranchers.

In early 2012, the Department of Commerce proposed closing the U.S. Commercial Service office in Kazakhstan. Hoeven, however, pressed Kenneth Fairfax, at the time U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan, to drop the proposal. Exports to Kazakhstan grew by 336 percent since 2003, including a herd of Hereford and Angus cattle. Prior to 2003, North Dakota had no exports to Kazakhstan.