September 23, 2009

Corn, agriculture can bring people together

Fifty years ago, in the middle of the Cold War, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came to Iowa to learn about corn and agriculture. The visit to Iowa came after Iowa farmer and corn breeder Roswell Garst had visited the Soviet Union -- at Khrushchev's invitation -- four years earlier.

Khrushchev was a big believer in corn. He wanted to learn from the Americans -- and then be better at it.

Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita's son, was along on the trip to Iowa 50 years ago. He's now a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

At a recent event marking Nikita's visit to Iowa, Sergei told Iowa Farmer Today that he believes the conversations between his father and Garst may have been more beneficial than any talks involving diplomats.

“I really believe their relationship helped to ease some of the tensions at the time because this really was a very unusual relationship for the Cold War,” Sergei said. “People saw how my father and Mr. Garst could become friends despite the differences.”

The Iowa Farmer Today, which is celebrating 25 years in business, did an article recently on the Khrushchev visit to Iowa. It's worth a read and you can find it here.

For more information on Nikita Khrushchev, check out this Wikipedia post. It notes that Khrushchev's dreams of corn and and agriculture dominance in the former Soviet Union did not become a reality.

Yet for a brief time, agriculture was a bridge between between the United States and the Soviet Union.

And reminded me about all the work in agriculture that is going on in the background in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world.

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