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University of Iowa News Release


June 6, 2007

Russian Visitors To Learn About Food Safety, Agricultural Agencies June 10-13

Four Russians and two interpreters will arrive in Iowa City Sunday, June 10 to learn more about U.S. food safety and agricultural agencies first-hand by visiting everything from a grocery store to local businesses. The Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC), part of University of Iowa International Programs, is sponsoring their visit as part of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.

During their stay, the visitors will tour food-related agencies and businesses in the area, according to Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director.

"Iowa means successful agriculture to many Russians dating from the time of Khrushchev's visit to the Garst farm in 1959," Baldridge said. "Almost 40 years later, Russians are still interested in understanding more about how Iowa is so successful in a global marketplace."

CIVIC members are also hosting an open forum for people to meet the visitors from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, in the second-floor board room, located at the top of the escalator above Cookies & More in University Capitol Centre in Iowa City. The forum is free and open to the public. Visitors can enjoy coffee, cookies and conversation with the Russian visitors, facilitated through the interpreters.

The Russian leaders will gain a better understanding of the inspection process of animal and plant products that are being exported. They will also explore other areas of food safety, including consumer policies and the relationship between the government and the food industry.

Participants include Olga Barannikova, executive director of Consumer Market Participants Union in Moscow; Nadezhda Brazhina, reporter and analyst for Vladivostok Daily in Vladivostok; Konstantin Ivin, sales manager of Evroton in Moscow; and Aleksandr Krutikov, department director and administration of Nadezhdinskiy Municipal Region, Primorskiy Kray. Two interpreters will accompany them.

The group will visit with Jerry Steffensmeier of Robert's Dairy at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 11. From 1 to 2:30 p.m., the group will meet with Jerry Anderson and Jim Dane of the Johnson County Farm Bureau. They will discuss food safety because exports of grains and other foods are of great concern to Iowa farmers. From 3 to 4:30 p.m., the Russian visitors will meet with Steve Shank at Hy-Vee on First Avenue in Iowa City to discuss the operation of a U.S. supermarket and how food safety issues affect them.

The six visitors will also meet with Jerry Bolton, dean of the Kirkwood Community College Agricultural Sciences Program, from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, June 12. This visit will involve discussions on food safety from the perspective of production. Following lunch, the group will meet from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. with Tom Hart of the Linn County Department of Public Health. They will also meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. with Victor Zesiger of Silliker Laboratories in Cedar Rapids. The visit to Silliker Labs will involve discussions of food testing in connection with food safety.

The visitors will depart on Wednesday, June 13. For more information or to arrange an interview with the visitors, call the CIVIC office at 319-335-0351, located in 1111 University Capitol Centre.

CIVIC is one of two organizations in Iowa that support the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and is a community organization of volunteers "serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis," said Baldridge.

International Programs enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

PROGRAM CONTACT: Tom Baldridge, CIVIC, 319-335-0351,

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,

WRITERS: Lindsey Tinnell and Lois J. Gray