Four vertical rows of shipping containersBefore North Dakota agricultural commodities are shipped to markets around the world, state inspectors work hard to ensure unwanted, damaging pests aren’t hopping aboard for a ride overseas.

To make sure North Dakota ag products are ready and meet export requirements of receiving countries, the Plant Industries Division of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) works to inspect and certify the shipments. Importing countries often require crop and plant products to have a phytosanitary certificate, which verifies plant products have been inspected and are free from pests and pathogens.

That’s where the NDDA Plant Industries Division (PID) steps in. The division implements North Dakota’s export certification program and issues the certificates.

“We issue phytosanitary certificates as required by the importing country, showing the commodity is apparently free from injurious plant pests,” says Charles Elhard, Plant Protection Specialist with the Plant Industries Division. “This could be soil, weed seeds, insects and pathogens, among others. Import requirements can vary greatly from country to country.”

NDDA issues over 3,000 certificates for nearly 90 countries, Elhard says. Almost one-third of phyto certificates are for Mexico.

“North Dakota’s most commonly exported commodities include soybeans, dry edible beans, peas, lentils, sunflowers, wheat, barley, flax and many others,” he says.

NDDA PID inspectors also check if plant and plant products meet national and international export requirements. The division works closely with other agencies to carry out inspections.

“Our division inspects smaller shipments, such as samples that are sent to a potential customer before a large sale is made, or research seed shipments that typically come in small envelopes or bags,” he says.

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