One of Khrushchev’s primary goals upon taking control was to find a better source of fodder for the Soviet Union To achieve this, Khrushchev looked towards America and their corn industry. Khrushchev saw how well corn worked as a feed crop for America and began to popularize it in his own country. The USSR went crazy over corn, importing seed corn from the US, creating a corn research institute in Ukraine, and the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture even issued a new scientific journal entitled “Corn”. Khrushchev also went to the US heartlands to see American corn fields and to talk to local farmers about the methods they used. On September 23, 1959, Khrushchev made a stop in Coon Rapids, Iowa and spent the entire day touring farms and chatting with the farmers, learning how to efficiently farm corn. Khrushchev’s plan was worked, the amount of corn sown soared from a mere 4.3 million hectares in 1954 to 18 million hectares in 1955. Thanks to some warm growing seasons, the corn harvest was plentiful and it appeared that Khrushchev’s plan to make corn the new fodder crop would work. People began to affectionately refer to Khrushchev as “Mr. Corn.”
Sadly, it was not to be. In an effort to turn more land into corn farms, the Soviet government began making farms in areas not suitable for growing corn. By 1962, 37 million hectares of land were devoted to growing corn. Like the song suggests, rain does make corn. But too much rain combined with the wrong climate kills corn quickly. Such was the case in the early 1960’s. In 1962, 75% of the corn harvest was lost to an especially rainy and cold growing season. To make matters worse, hay production was also reduced that year. This led to an even worse shortage of fodder for domestic farm animals. This caused an increase in meat prices which led to some unpleasant things, including the Novocherkassk massacre in which 24 people were killed by the Soviet police.