Visitors and exhibitors at Husker Harvest Days may have noticed an uptick in international presence at the show over the past several years. It may come as no surprise, considering the largest irrigation manufacturers in the world are located here in the Cornhusker State.
This year, Husker Harvest Days — partnering with Nebraska's Department of Agriculture and Department of Economic Development, and Valmont Industries — is unveiling an International Visitors Center for the first time.
The center, which will be located at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Main Street on Lot 34 — just north of the Hospitality Tent — is intended to foster connections between U.S. and international business interests.
Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress director of trade shows and Husker Harvest Days show manager, says HHD is a good fit for the center.
"We've already seen at our other shows where companies from France or Australia, for example, will visit with short line companies to see if those companies are interested in exporting overseas," Jungmann says. "If you look at the irrigation companies based in Nebraska, they are obviously marketing to people within a three-hour drive time of Husker Harvest Days, but they're also shipping center pivots all over the globe.
“It's fair to say Husker Harvest Days is one of the best exhibits they put up to display their new technology and tools, and it's one of the best places for folks to come and learn about it. It would be great if we can attract growers all over the world to Husker Harvest Days."
On Wednesday of the show, Nebraska companies with an international presence will have an opportunity to give presentations to international visitors at the center in a kind of matchmaking platform. So, if visitors are interested in learning more about the company, they can watch the presentation and visit its exhibit at HHD.
On Thursday, while international visitors are participating in off-site farm tours, the International Visitors Center will serve as a resource for Nebraska businesses. There will be presentations from organizations such as the U.S. Commercial Service, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Department of Agriculture, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says the International Visitors Center provides three big opportunities for international connections. First, it provides an opportunity for international customers interested in buying Nebraska products to see the state firsthand.
"Husker Harvest Days is a great way to see how our high-quality products are made and talk to producers directly," Ricketts says. "Our farmers and ranchers are our best ambassadors when we're overseas talking to people buying our products, and this is a great opportunity to do a reverse trade mission, so to speak, to have those buyers come to Nebraska and visit with producers directly."
Second, the Strategic Plan for International Engagement identifies a list of specific countries to market Nebraska products to. And Ricketts says the center provides an opportunity to introduce Nebraska companies to international customers interested in buying Nebraska products — including products in addition to commodities, such as irrigation equipment.
"Nebraska makes 85% of all irrigation equipment in the world," Ricketts says. "They can come to Husker Harvest Days and actually see working irrigation equipment up close."
Third, it's an opportunity to identify and reach out to international businesses interested in foreign direct investment in Nebraska — and expand relationships with those who already are investing in the state.
"For example, with countries like Germany where we have companies like Claas and Graepel Group already in Nebraska, we want to expand those relationships that are already established," Ricketts says.
In 2018, the state of Nebraska unveiled its Strategic Plan for International Engagement, and the increased international engagement effort at HHD is part of a larger effort outlined in the plan by the Governor's Council for International Relations in Nebraska.
"It really takes what we're doing to another level,” Ricketts says. “We're taking advantage of a great opportunity at Husker Harvest Days to invite international folks to see what we do with regard to agriculture. Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in our state, and we're one of the top ag exporting states. Husker Harvest Days is a great way for folks from overseas to see how we do things, the quality of what we produce, the technology, all those things to promote exports overseas."