A delegation of Russian farmers and businessmen stopped in Morris today. They were on their way to the Riverview Dairy as part of a four farm tour through the Midwest . Alexander Zhukovsky (Ju-cough-ski), the group’s spokesperson, is the Agro Director of Pepsico and its subsidaries in Russia . Pepsico recently purchased a dairy operation in the largest single purchase in the company’s history. Zhukovsky says the company wants to pursue healthier food options and dairy, he says, is a wide-open market. He says the dairy industry in Russia has not kept pace with the needs of the country or the technological advances available for farming operations. In fact, most dairy operations across the country he characterized as “small”–driving the price of milk up and the availablity of the popular commodity down. Other than the dairy operations owned by Pepsico, most Russian dairy operations are owned by families, with herd sizes at 300 head or less. A few dairy operations are owned by corporations or foreign investors but, Zhokovsky says, the country’s dairies need to see improvements in operating practices and in production. That’s why they’ve come to the US: to see dairies that are using a unique or especially efficient approach to farming.
The group of farmers and Pepsico representatives are visiting three other dairy operations in the upper Midwest . Zhukovsky says they focused on a region with similar climate and water access as their dairy farms in Russia . The trip includes St. Peter, Minnesota and Green Bay, Wisconsin .