How long have you been involved with CNATCA?
I became involved in CNATCA in 2014. I have been involved in helping with the events and have enjoyed working with the forward-thinking group that is involved in the organization.
Tell us a bit about your personal background. Where were you raised? Education, Family, Career?
I was raised in southwestern North Dakota, 60 miles straight south of where President Roosevelt ranched in North Dakota at Bowman. The White family homesteaded that part of North Dakota in 1906 and have farmed and ranched there since.
My dad, Dale, was a farmer and rancher until his death in 1990, and my mother, JoAnn, was a registered nurse until the loss of her eyesight forced her to quit.
I was educated at Amor country school, Bowman High School and North Dakota State University. While at NDSU I was an honor student and received the outstanding senior award in the college of Agriculture my senior year.
I returned to Bowman County to farm and ranch after graduation just as my family always had done. I ranched until 2000, then started a new career working at Paulson Seed, a specialty crop processor in Bowman. I worked my way to marketing manager, and the company exported to about 23 countries while I worked there. I was involved in the first US–Cuban Food and Agribusiness Exhibition in Havana, Cuba in September of 2002. The North Dakota delegation got to meet and personally dine with Fidel Castro. That was the first of my four trips to Cuba to sell peas to Alimport.
In the fall of 2004, I was offered a job with the North Dakota Dry Pea and Lentil Association as their Marketing Director. Not long after I took the job, the organization merged with Montana and formed the Northern Pulse Growers Association as it is today.
In the spring of 2007, the North Dakota Trade Office offered me a job as the International Agribusiness Manager, and I had the privilege to travel the world and represent North Dakota companies.
In July of 2015, I resigned and started LL-International LLC as a private consultant and have continued to find markets for North Dakota products.
In 2017, Les Paulson and I built a small oilseed crushing plant in Bowman, ND and named it Pulse Oils LLC. We are currently crushing safflower oil, and our product line will be called 17 THISTLES.
I have been married to my wife, Kathryn, for 37 years. We’re blessed with two children—my son, John, and daughter, Laura.
Describe your current projects that you are excited about and how they relate to CNATCA.
My recent work in China has opened my eyes to why infrastructure development must never stop. In the last year, the Chinese have added 80,000km of four-lane roads and 20,000km of high-speed train rail with one goal in mind—to move product more easily. They are also looking at building a road to Europe and one to Bangladesh. As we look at renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement, the Chinese are positioning themselves to be the leader in trade and development. They are building as we sit and watch and wonder why we cannot find the urgency to go forward in the United States.
I am working in Mongolia and China as a consultant in beef development and meat imports to China. They are looking to build up the supply of high quality beef in China. The Chinese have built over a thousand slaughterhouses in the last ten years. They are looking to the future needs to sustain 1.5 billion people.
I also am doing an Emerging Market Program for the USDA in Romania and the Ukraine. The program is an assessment on the need for better genetics in forage and beef production.
I think producers along the CNATCA corridor can benefit in supplying beef and genetics to China. The meat imports have already started and the live-animal imports will soon follow.
How can CNATCA support the sustainability of rural communities in your area?
CNATCA’s goal has to be to help smaller communities and small businesses in rural areas compete in the world trade through more efficient and timely logistics. I also think the networking among members is beneficial to anyone who is looking to export or move product along the corridor.
CNACTA has a very ambitious agenda, to be the conduit that brings trade, development and commerce to the Central North American Trade Corridor. To accomplish that mission, what do you think CNATCA should be focused on over the next five years?
Immediate attention should be on drafting a fair and free NAFTA trade bill that is fair to all three countries without starting a trade war and new tariffs and extra paperwork. Let’s make the corridor autonomous and with a high-speed rail that will be the focal point of future infrastructure development.