The sources for the information below include, but are not limited to, the following: the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Daily Report (RFE/RL), the Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the Central Intelligence Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture's AG a.m., Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington Post.
The Russian Agricultural List Service is sponsored by the University of Maryland College of Agriculture at College Park, the Research and Scientific Exchanges Division, Foreign Agriculture Service/International Cooperation and Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Committee on International Science and Education of the Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences.
5 April 1994: -The current exchange rate is R1773 per dollar. (-The Washington Post-, April 5, 1994) -The draft program on agricultural reform approved by the Cabinet has been rejected by the agricultural committees of both houses of Parliament. Meanwhile, the government has issued a decree on the redistribution of land, which does not have to be approved by Parliament. The land redistribution decree provides for a system based on the one initiated in Nizhny Novgorod whereby the farmers and pensioners receive a voucher entitling them to part of the parent kolkhoz' or sovkhoz' land and machinery. The system encourages the farmers and pensioners to then join other workers to form effective production units. (RFE/RL, April 5, 1994) -First quarter results show a decline in industrial output, reported variously at 24 and 25 percent when compared with last year's figures. The monthly inflation rate dropped from 22 percent in January, to 9.9 percent in February, to 8.7 percent in March. Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin is predicting a monthly inflation rate of 3-5 percent by the end of the year, well within the guideline stipulated by the IMF. (RFE/RL, April 5, 1994) 4 April 1994: -One of the trade agreements signed recently between the US and Russia during US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown's trip to Russia provides for the establishment of nine business centers in Russia to assist US companies seeking to invest there. The agreement also stipulates the reduction of trade barriers in the pharmaceutical industry. (RFE/RL, April 4, 1994) -Bernard McPheely, CEO of Hartness International and a recent companion of US Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown on his trip to Russia, commented that he found individual companies in Russia committed to becoming successful business enterprises. McPheely signaled out the managers and food and beverage producers he met as "top rate." He said they were aware of the difficulty facing them but were "absolutely committed to succeeding." (-USA Today-, Monday April 4, 1994, Section 5B) -Admiral Nikolai Kudinov, commander of Russia's naval border forces, says Russia has launched a campaign against what he describes as illegal fishing by foreign boats in Russian waters. Specifically, Admiral Kudinov is targeting Japanese fishing boats which have been spotted fishing off the coast of the disputed Kuril Islands. (RFE/RL, April 4, 1994) 30 March 1994: -Government officials continue to disagree on the introduction of import tariffs on foodstuffs. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told visiting US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown that some of the suggested import duties will be revised and others introduced. Duties on goods already ordered will not change. Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin supports the higher tariffs which he contends will invigorate the domestic economy while Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov rejects the custom duties. Davydov contends that Russia needs to remove all trade barriers if the country intends to move toward an open society. (RFE/RL, March 30, 1994) 29 March 1994: -Officials close to President Boris Yeltsin expect pro-Communist candidates to win a majority of the votes cast in the local elections held on March 27. Ostankino TV reported a low turnout for the elections with approximately 30-40 percent of eligible voters participating. Turnout was highest among the conservative rural areas. (RFE/RL, March 29, 1994) 23 March 1994: -Boris Yeltsin's introduction of import duties on foodstuffs met opposition with officials from Russia's three largest cities. City officials have asked Yeltsin to rescind the 20 percent import duty on food, claiming it destroys the established food-supply system, which could lead to starvation. (US Department of Agriculture's Ag a.m., March 23, 1994) 24 March 1994: -US chicken exports to Russia plummeted with the introduction of Russian tariffs on imported meats. Semi-processed and consumer-oriented agricultural goods were hardest hit by the new tariff increases. (US Department of Agriculture's AG a.m., March 24, 1994) -USDA General Sales Manager Christopher Goldthwait told a House Appropriations subcommittee that USDA would consider extending Russia more export credit guarantees to help buy US grain. However, prospects for near term sales to Russia remain unlikely. (US Department of Agriculture's Ag a.m., March 24, 1994) 17 March 1994: -In an address to the upper house of Parliament, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin rejected the idea of imposing emergency measures into the economy. Chernomyrdin admitted the economic situation was complicated but stated the government had control. He said imposing emergency measures would be the "shortest way of ending the reforms." (Interfax News Agency, Bulletin #3, March 17, 1994) 4-11 March 1994: -According to Interfax, Russian farmers face critical shortages of machinery and materials needed to sow spring crops. Overall, Russian farmers have 63,400 less tractors, 26,200 less plows, 41,000 less sowers, and 40,300 less cultivators than at this time last year. A shortage of spare parts is preventing the usage of much of the available machinery. Farmers also face critical shortages in gasoline, diesel fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides. Officials predict that farmers will have to resow about 2-2.5 Mn ha of their winter crops and sow even more grain than usual this spring to make up for the total crop areas cut last fall. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, March 4-11) -The administration of the Moscow region is trying to secure funds to purchase food and fodder grain to stock a regional reserve of 2Mn tons. (The federal food reserve no longer supplies the region.) Although the region has requested a loan from the federal government, it does not expect the funds to be approved because of the government's policy of not issuing soft credits. The region may be forced to borrow the money from the Central Bank of Russia at the full discount rate of 213 percent. This would increase the price of groats, flour, and formula feed as much as 45-50 percent. According to experts, retail prices would be expected to increase as follows; "for bread, from Rbs 260 to 350 for a half-kilo loaf; factory-gate prices will go up for a kilo of pork from Rbs 1,300-1,800 to Rbs 4,400; for 10 eggs from Rbs 900 to Rbs 1,460, and for a liter of milk from Rbs 165-290 to Rbs 370." (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, March 4-11) -Area of Interest: Latvia The Latvian Farmers' Union held its congress on March 26 and elected a new chairman, Andris Rozentals. The congress then passed a resolution urging the government to ban the import of farm goods produced in Latvia. The Latvian Farmers' Union and Latvia's Way are partners in the current ruling coalition. Some speakers at the Latvian Farmers' Union's congress suggest the coalition may fail if the situation does not improve in the countryside.