Published January 1, 1992 | January 1992 issue
"Dakota Cares" is the name of the project that promises 20,000 10-pound bags of "Dakota Maid" flour to Russian households.
The program, sponsored by the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, began in October with a call to state farmers to donate grain or other commodities at 63 grain elevators around the state. The elevators credited farmers for their donations of flour or other commodities, including sunflowers, corn and soybeans, and sent a check for the value of the grain to the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks. The state-owned mill donated its services for milling and packaging the flour for shipment to Russia. And the Burlington Northern Railroad and Conrail donated transportation costs to deliver the shipment to Elizabeth, N.J.
The flour bags are labeled in Russian and English to read: A gift of quality flour from the people of the State of North Dakota, USA, to the people of Russia." Plans call for the shipment to reach St. Petersburg in time for the Russian Orthodox celebration of Christmas in early January. The group is working with the Salvation Army in St. Petersburg to develop a distribution plan.
While Dakota Cares is a purely humanitarian effort, Dina Butcher, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, says, "We'd like to believe that once they see the good quality of flour, it could lead to more trade relationships."
But that's not the only way North Dakota wheat may end up in Russian bread. In early December, it was announced that Russia and other former Soviet republics are expected to use the recently approved U.S. food aid package to purchase about 165 million bushels of U.S. wheat, or about 100 million bushels more than many experts predicted. That announcement could mean greater demand and higher prices to North Dakota wheat growers.