The Cold War Comes to the Farm

A rarely remembered Cold War factoid is that cultural diplomacy (think touring orchestras, ballet troupes, and wrestling teams) got its start in agricultural exchanges. In early 1955, Lauren Soth, the editor of the Des Moines Register, published an editorial inviting Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to visit Iowa farms. To everyone’s surprise, Khurshchev endorsed the idea. Khurshchev himself wouldn’t come for another four years, but Soth’s editorial set in motion a series of diplomatic and foreign policy discussions that embraced the scientific and technical potential of scientific exchanges. I’m still working through the meaning of these exchanges in the larger picture of Cold War scientific diplomacy (the subject of my next book), but I’m previewing some of my thoughts on the topic in today’s Modern Farmer blog.