Northern Plains Grain Inspection Service performs service throughout Northeast North Dakota, and Northwest Minnesota. The agency is equally owned and operated by Ryan Kuhl and Paul Bethke. Mike Johnson is the agency manager.
The agency began when Ryan began his grain inspection career, when he was hired by the local agency to perform sampling during the 1991 harvest. Ryan obtained his first inspector license when he was 17. This first license was for barley, since at that time around half of the grain produced and inspected in the area was barley. Paul began his career around the same time as Ryan at the Grand Forks Field Office. Paul then moved to the local agency in 1996.
The local agency began experiencing problems due to extenuating circumstances in the early 2000s, and Ryan, Paul, and Terry Pladson came together to form Northern Plains and apply for the designated area. Their application was accepted and Northern Plains opened for business on October 1, 2003. After 27 years of being a licensed inspector, Terry Pladson retired.
Today, Northern Plains is headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota with a second office in Devils Lake, North Dakota. The agency also operates 20 on-site laboratories, and two Official Commercial Inspection System truck laboratories. In their area, they inspect a wide variety of grains. While wheat, corn and soybeans make up most grains inspected, Northern Plains regularly inspects barley, canola, flax, oats, rye, sunflowers, and triticale. They also sample edible beans, peas, lentils, and other unofficial grains to assist the Grand Forks Field Office. The agency meets the needs of its customers with 35-40 full time professional employees, a few part time samplers, and three office support personnel.
Ryan credits technology for helping to meet all the agency’s service requests. Through their website, customers can request service, and obtain their results. With tracking devices on all their vehicles, they can see if employees are in route, at the service site, or on their way back. This is helpful if other service requests are received and someone needs to be diverted. The program also provides weather information which is critical for at least 8 months of the year. In addition to being available on their phones, the program is on a computer in the office work area so everyone can see what is happening, and allows employees to volunteer for service requests.
Ryan states that operating an official agency in their area is extremely satisfying because agriculture dominates the economy in the area, and when agriculture does good, everyone does good, and it is great to be part of a community like that.
For more information about Northern Plains, check out their website.