Kansas Farm Bureau News Release (KS)
Posted on September 22, 1999
By Donna Hedke
Wellington -- Eleven members of a Russian leadership program and their interpreters learned about American agriculture from Farm Bureau leaders as they toured southeast Kansas Sept. 14.
"They came here to see democracy in action, and we were pleased to show them how private farms operate in the United States," Farm Bureau Director Helen Norris said.
Stops included the Becker Dairy Farm in Clearwater, the Eldon Lawless farm south of Belle Plain, the Wellington Farmers Coop and a barbecue luncheon sponsored by Kansas Farm Bureau.
Norris coordinated the tour along with Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt's office and the World Trade Center in Wichita. Congress funded the program, which is bringing 2,100 Russian political and civic leaders to various locations in the United States. The group in Kansas included three members of the Russian Duma, similar to Congress.
Based on her own travels in Russia and Ukraine, the Russian visitors needed more than a farm tour to help them understand American agriculture, Norris said. They needed to see how U.S. farmers are forming cooperatives, developing value-added products and building farmer-owned processing plants to remain competitive in the world marketplace.
"Throughout the day we tried to stress the many resources and services available to farmers as well as some of the challenges they face," Norris said.
At a noon luncheon at the Raymond Frye Complex in Wellington, the Russian leaders heard from an agricultural extension agent and an authority on international trade. They also learned about Farm Bureau and other farm organizations and their role in shaping public policy.
Although most were not entirely familiar with the workings of agriculture in their own country, they asked many good questions and were eager to learn the benefits of capitalism, Norris said.
"Their visit reminded us of the value of democracy and the individual rights we sometimes take for granted. We have a voice we can exert if we will just use it."
[Permission granted by Kansas Farm Bureau. ]
[Reprinted with Permission]