International ag research conference headed to Fargo

The warmly lit greenhouses at NDSU’s new Agricultural Experiment Station served as a fitting backdrop for last week’s announcement that Fargo has been selected as the site of the 2016 Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference. The annual event, currently in its 17th year, is considered to be one of the premier gatherings for biotech researchers and industry leaders from around the world and promotes innovation through sustainable food, feed, fiber and fuel security as the climate changes. The Fargo event will mark the first time the conference has been held in the U.S. and┬ámuch of the event is expected to center around research conducted at NDSU.┬áHosting organizations include AdFarm, the state agriculture department, NDSU and the Red River Valley Research Corridor.

Doug Goehring, North Dakota ag commissioner, was among the group of speakers gathered to discuss the conference and its expected impact on Fargo and the entire region. He said it is fitting that North Dakota be selected to host the ABIC because of its agriculturally rich history. “Contrary to popular belief, agriculture is still No. 1 in North Dakota,” he said.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani and Ken Grafton, NDSU vice president for agriculture and university extension, said the conference will present an opportunity to highlight the public-private partnership model embraced by NDSU and the state’s agriculture industry and noted that the public-private approach fits well with the conference’s focus on developing local solutions to innternational issues related to climate change.

Roger Reierson, president and CEO of Flint Group and AdFarm, will head the conference steering committee and said the event will give the area’s agriculture businesses and researchers an opportunity to provide input on global issues. Delore Zimmerman, executive director for the Red River Valley Research Corridor, said he expects the conference will produce new connections within the international ag community for attendees.

With two years left to plan, Reierson noted that the specific theme of the Fargo conference has not yet been determined but that the theme will likely have an impact on the types of attendees attracted to the conference.The 2013 ABIC, held in September in Calgary, Alberta, was primarily focused on energy and drew about 400 attendees from 23 countries. The 2014 ABIC will be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The 2015 event will be held in Melbourne, Australia.

Charley Johnson, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Conference said the ABIC is expected to provide a significant economic boost to the Fargo metro. “This is a huge win for us,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of conference we like to bring here.”

He speculated that the conference could also result in new businesses establishing in Fargo.

For more information on the ABIC, visit