RUSAG-L: Current Events #41

Please keep in mind that the following current events information
represents information about events in Russian agriculture we
received during the past week, while the actual events may have
occurred earlier.

The sources for the information below include, but are not
limited to, the following:  the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Daily Report (RFE/RL), Interfax News, Food and Agriculture
Report, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the Central
Intelligence Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS),
Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington

The Russian Agricultural ListServ 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.

22 October 1994:
-The current exchange rate is listed at R3005 per dollar. (The
Washington Post, October 22, 1994)

14 October 1994:
-Vice-Premier Alexander Zaveryukha has once again denied reports
that Russia will import grain this year.  Zaveryukha said that
any media reports attributing officials at the Russian
Agriculture Ministry as sources for reports claiming Russia will
import grain are groundless.  He explained that only the
government can calculate the amounts of grain Russia needs and
purchase it.  The government, according to Zaveryukha, has not
addressed these questions. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central
Inc., Tass, October 14, 1994)

-Agrarians of Russia's South met in Stavropol with Vice-Premier
Alexander Zaveryukha.  Participants in the meeting, which opened
today, will discuss ways to rescue the Russian agrarian sector
from its current stagnation. (Nexis/Lexis, through Mead Data
Central Inc., Tass, October 14, 1994)

13 October 1994:
-Miron Tatsyun, chairman of Roslesprom, a Russian state-run
holding company, announced that the Russian timber industry may
soon obtain large-scale loans from the US.  Tatsyun estimates
that the Russian timber industry needs approximately $30 billion.
The Russian government has already supported Roslesprom's efforts
to establish the Russian Forestry Investment Company and register
it in the US. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central Inc., Reuter
Textline Novecon, October 13, 1994)

12 October 1994:
-An article in The Chicago Tribune explained the sudden plunge of
the ruble to the Russian Central Bank's policy of continued non-
interference on the currency market.  The articles went on to
say, however, that one of the underlying reasons for the plunge
lay in the government's granting of extensive but publicly
unrevealed credits to the Russian agriculture sector.  The
credits were supposed to be used to buy new equipment and
machinery or, at the least, to pay off billions of dollars worth
of old debts that factories owe to one another.  Instead, the
bankers, farm managers, and farm directors who received the
credits used them to speculate on the currency markets.
(Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central Inc., The Chicago Tribune,
October 12, 1994)

4 October 1994:
-The Agriculture Agency of the Maritime Territorial
Administration sent a memorandum to the Russian Agriculture
Ministry placing flood damage estimates to the Maritime Territory
at 165 billion rubles.  42 livestock breeding farms were
destroyed along with over 5,000 hectares of ploughlands.  The
floods around the Kuril Islands have also caused substantial
damage to military installations and thousands of people have had
to be evacuated. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central Inc.,
Tass, October 4, 1994)

28 September 1994:
-A joint venture, Russian-American Ionized Energy Services, has
been formed to promote Russian lumber exports to the US.  The
company will seek to lift the US ban on Russian wood imports to
the US by developing a sterilization method using irradiation.
The venture includes:  Rolesprom, the state-owned forestry firm,
the Khlopin Institute of the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry, and
the US firm REM Capital Corporation. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead
Data Inc., Agence France Presse, September 28, 1994)

7-14 October 1994:
-According to Alexander Zaveryukha, the State Duma will consider
20 bills for the farm sector during its autumn session.
Zaveryukha says that reforms in the agricultural sector are
moving much faster than legislation.  He has asked members of the
Duma to give priorities to passing the Land Code and laws on
state regulation, private farming, agricultural cooperatives, and
the bases of government food policy. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, October 7-14, 1994, p. 3)

-Deputy Prime Minister Akexander Zaveryukha told members of the
Moscow VIP Club at the International Trade Center that the
Russian government plans to develop an international farm
investment fund, Agrointerfond, to attract private investment in
the farm sector.  The fund will have an insurance reserve of 1
trillion rubles and will be supported by the Russian government
and five major commercial banks. (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, October 7-14, 1994, p. 3)

-Wholesale customers owe Russian farms 4.5 trillion rubles and
enterprises in the Russian agro-industrial complex owe its
suppliers 13 trillion rubles for machinery, fertilizer, fuels and
lubricants, and other inputs.  Government sources blame the farm
debt crisis on the scrapping of loans for farmers, the difference
between agricultural and industrial prices, and government
arrears for subsidies and procurement payments.  The government
has spent only 2.3 of the 8.8 trillion rubles planned for the
farm sector this year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
October 7-14, 1994, p. 4)

-Leonid Cheshinsky, president of Roskhleboprodukt, Russia's semi-
privatized grain trading corporation, predicts Russia's 1994
grain production will be far below the officially quoted 90
million tons.  Cheshinsky also says wheat production will be
lower than ever before at 31-32 million tons, compared to 43
million tons last year.  He warns that bread prices could soar
from the current 800 rubles to 2,400-3,000 rubles per kilo within
the next few months.   Roskhleboprodukt is currently buying grain
at $50-$60 per ton.  World prices are around $140 a ton.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, October 7-14, 1994, p. 10)

-According to Mikhail Lapshin, leader of the 200,000 member
Agrarian Party, the new face of the Party includes a movement to
embrace into a single organization farmers, fisherman,
lumberjacks, and others who "care about the fate of the village."
The new movement will be called the Agrarian Center and
signatories to the statement of the Center include:  Deputy Prime
Minister Alexander Zaveryukha, First Deputy Minister of
Agriculture and Food Vladimir Shcherbak, and State Duma Agrarian
Committee Chairman Alexander Nazarchuk.  The new movement seeks
to pressure the government to change the course of reforms and
overcome the rural crisis. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
October 7-14, 1994, p. 4)


Current Russian law allows Russian farmers to own land and
assets but not sell them freely.  The Russian government will
soon discuss a resolution "On the Procedures for Executing the
Rights of Owners Over Land and Assets," which is based on the
Nizhny Novgorod model.  The Nizhny Novgorod model allows farmers
to, not only own land and assets, but to sell them freely to
fellow farmers.

Disagreements have emerged over the provisions of the
current resolution.  Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and
Food and deputies from the Agrarian Party want to limit the
amount of land and assets that can be sold to non-farmers.  In
contrast, members of the State Property Committee, headed by
Anatoly Chubais, the privatization tsar, US consultants, and
officials from the Nizhny Novgorod administration want a more
open land market policy.  Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is
pushing for the government to table the resolution until the
parliament reconvenes this autumn and passes new land and civil
codes.  In the meantime, the fate of the resolution will be
decided by the government's agrarian policy council, under the
chairmanship of Alexander Zaveryukha, which will meet and discuss
the resolution on October 17.  (Information taken from Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, October 4-17, 1994, p. 6)