COON RAPIDS, Iowa, Sept. 23, 1959 (UPI) - Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev today went out into the Iowa corn fields to find out what makes the American farmer tick and how he produces so much.
The No. 1 Communist, whose pet project is agriculture, heralded his visit in a brief speech in Des Moines last night. He urged that the earth "be furrowed by plows, not rockets and tanks."
His main objective today was the farm of Roswell Garst, who met and impressed Khrushchev on a visit to Russia last spring.
More than 4,000 visitors were in this town of 1,700 to see the Soviet leader. Among those waiting to talk with him is Adlai Stevenson, twice a Democratic nominee for the presidency.
Khrushchev said he was interested in finding out how U.S. farmers - 12 per cent of the American population - manage to produce enough food for everybody. He admitted Russia lags in agriculture but added "it is possible to overcome this lag within a short time."
Khrushchev spoke last night at a dinner given by Des Moines Mayor Charles Iles on the eve of his daylong tour of Iowa farmlands, which produce more corn, hogs and finished beef cattle than any other state.
Earlier, Khrushchev proposed one or two meetings a year with President Eisenhower as "beneficial" and "better ... than to send messages which are not always friendly."
In his dinner speech, brief and unmarked by humor, Khrushchev said American reports of the Russian seven-year agricultural plan pictured it as "a kind of Soviet economic menace."
"But the question is what kind of a menace and whom can our agricultural production hurt," Khrushchev said. "Hardly anyone can contend that the consumption of more butter and meat will make our people more aggressive."
Khrushchev flew to Des Moines from California after a rigorous West Coast schedule and ate a hot dog smeared with mustard at a meat packing plant shortly after his arrival.
Before he flies to Pittsburgh tonight on the last leg of his transcontinental tour of his country's chief "cold war enemy," Khrushchev also will visit a college which has contributed greatly to the nation's agricultural know-how.
Iowa State is at Ames about 25 miles north of Des Moines. Coon Rapids, closest town to the Garst farms, is about 50 miles northwest of Des Moines.
During his tour today, Khrushchev saw a square-mile field of corn and a demonstration of the latest harvesting machinery.