Recently a group of agribusiness private sector representatives from the Asian nation Kazakhstan visited the United States with stops in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. The tour was part of a trade and investment mission conducted by the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association with the Embassy of Kazakhstan to the United States, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Minnesota Trade Office and the U.S. Departments of State, Agriculture and Commerce.

Kazakhstan became an independent country after the breakup of the Soviet Union 25 years ago. Needles to say its citizens do not have the standard of living we do because of the problems left from the Soviet system. They have very productive soils, oil and natural gas reserves, but not have all the infrastructure we take for granted here in the United States.

The delegation toured the John Deere facility in Moline, Illinois, AGCO in Jackson, and the new shuttle loading elevator in Hope, which was built by the Crystal Valley Co-op. Many of the delegation could speak English quite well so it was fun to talk with them. They were very impressed with the Crystal Valley elevator at Hope. They were even more impressed when they realized that that big elevator at Hope was owned by farmers.