RUSAG-L: Current Events #52

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 Open Media Research Center
(OMRI), 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 Post.

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.

10 March 1995:
-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4531 per
dollar.  (The Washington Post, March 10, 1995)

9 March 1995:
-Administrative heads of several Russian regions, who also happen
to be members of the Federation Council, will meet with President
Boris Yeltsin next week to discuss legislation concerning the
status of agriculture.  Yevgeny Kuznetsov, a member of the
council's agroindustrial policy committee, is recommending that
the government stabilize fuel prices, reduce the gap between the
prices of industrial and farming goods, and make advance payments
to agricultural producers.  Kuznetsov charged that Russia had
become a "dumping ground for substandard foreign foodstuffs."  He
warned that, if the government continued to neglect the problem
of food supply, social unrest could occur.  (OMRI, March 9, 1995)

-The Association of Private Farmers and Landowners called on
parliament to enact Article 17 of the 1994 Civil Code for legal
regulation of private land ownership.  President Vladimir
Bashmachnikov said the new land code had been "unjustifiably
delayed" by the Duma and, hence, many private farmers had been
unable to buy land.  According to the Association, there were
approximately 280,000 private farms in Russia by early this year,
which owned a combined total of 12 million hectares of farmland.
(OMRI, March 9, 1995)

-The Russian Fishing Committee announced that foreign
states will allow Russia fishing quotas amounting to 981,400 tons for 1995.
Russian fisherman caught only 799,000 tons of fish in 1994 from a
quota of 1,009,700 tons.  The Committee blamed the lack of fish
concentrations in certain areas for the decreased numbers. The
Russian fleet worked in the 200-mile economic zone of 17
countries last year.  (OMRI, March 9, 1995)

8 March 1995:
-The World Bank approved a $400 million loan to Russia to assist
local governments in selling land to private individuals.
Initially, housing projects in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod,
Tver, Moscow, Barnaul, and Novgorod will receive assistance.  The
World Bank project is designed to help revive the Russian economy
by providing practical ways for the market to produce housing.
(OMRI, March 8, 1995)

7 March 1995:
-According to the government's Business Conditions Center,
Russia's inflation rate dropped to 11%, down from January's 17.8%
level.  First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais says he
expects inflation rates to continue to fall throughout 1995.
(OMRI, March 7, 1995)

6 March 1995:
-The Russian Trade Committee statistics show that production of
meat fell 25% in 1994; dairy products by 17%; butter by 33%;
sugar by 36%, and flour by 14%.  These statistics are measured
against 1993.  As a result, according to the Ministry of Foreign
Economic Relations, Russia had to import three times more meat
and fish in 1994 than in 1993; four times more poultry, and two
times more milk powder.  (OMRI, March 6, 1995)

1 March 1995:
-According to a Labor Ministry official, the minimum monthly wage
of 20,500 rubles is only 12% of the subsistence minimum.  A
Russian needs 170,000 rubles a month to buy food and other
essentials and to pay utility bills.  The average cost of the
minimum consumption basket of 19 basic items in January was
135,000 rubles.  (OMRI, March 1, 1995)

24 February-March 3, 1995:
-This week, Alexander Nazarchuk, Russia's agriculture minister,
visited top officials at the US Department of Agriculture and the
World Bank.  Nazarchuk was in Washington to sign a series of
bilateral farm cooperation agreements because most of the
agreements which govern farm cooperation between Russia and the
United States have elapsed.  Nazarchuk also planned to hold
meetings with the World Bank, concerning a $240 million loan that
would help build a market infrastructure in the farm sector and
also be used to improve seed farming.  Nazarchuk was not expected
to discuss grain credits.  Nazarchuk told Interfax in February
that Russia may import 2 million tons of wheat this year.
However, Russian Economics Minister, Yevgeny Yasin, said he
believes Russia will fall short of 3.5-4.0 million tons of wheat
in 1995.  He thinks shortages could emerge as early as March.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, February 24-March 3, 1995,
p. 2)

-The Russian government announced plans to purchase wheat for its
federal stockpiles at an average price of 250,000-270,000 rubles
per ton.  Prices in a draft government resolution on food
procurement listed prices at 175,000 rubles per ton for food-
quality rye; 250,000 rubles per ton for brewer's barley; 400,000
rubles per ton for rice; 100,000 rubles per ton for sugar beets,
and 800,000 rubles per ton for sunflower seeds.  Russia's
procurement plan failed last year because the government refused
to pay the 220,000 rubles per ton demanded by farmers for their
wheat.  Roskleboprodukt's president, Leonid Cheshinsky, said
earlier that farmers now consider the 260,000 rubles per ton an
unrealistic price.  He warned that farmers may yet sell their
grain to exporters, unless the government offers at least $80 per
ton, the European average for grain.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, February 24-March 3, 1995, p. 3)

-Russian farmers are still waiting on promised subsidies for
agrichemicals and loans for machinery, just as farmers in
southern Russia get ready for spring sowing.  Spring sowing needs
to proceed well, given the conditions associated with winter
crops.  Farmers sowed just 14.3 million hectares of winter crops
last fall, much less than usual.  Moreover, 2.7 million hectares
of the winter crops have totally or partially failed to sprout.
The situation is particularly bad in the Northern Caucasus, but
other regions have also reported bad conditions.  The Ministry of
Agriculture and Food reports that farmers have enough seed, but
that the quality of machinery will severely hamper spring sowing.
Over the past two years, farmers have failed to replace 162,000
decommissioned tractors, 64,000 trucks, 53,000 plows, 89,000
seeders, and 89,000 cultivators.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, February 24-March 3, 1995)

-The State Duma agrarian committee has finalized the draft of a
land code it will submit to the full house in March.  The draft
envisions three types of land ownership:  government, municipal,
and private.  According to the draft, foreigners may not own
land, only lease it.  The Code also calls for restrictions on
land transactions, including a five-year ban on land sales.  The
draft land code, as it stands, overrules President Boris
Yeltsin's decree to allow the free sale of land, including
farmland.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, February 24-
March 3, 1995, pp. 6-7)


8 March 1995:
-The Bulgarian Socialist Party is slated to introduce legislation
to the parliament that would amend the land law, limiting owners'
rights to use and sell their land.  The amendment would, in
effect, promote collective farming.  Farmers would be required to
offer their land for sale to the state first, before being
allowed to approach third parties.  The amendment would also
allow cooperatives to inherit the best and largest plots from the
abolished communist collective farms.  If the amendment is
approved, deputies from the Union of Democratic Forces intend to
file objections with the Constitutional Court.  The deputies
argue that the amendment violates constitutional provisions that
declare private property inviolable.  (OMRI, March 8, 1995)


17 February-February 24, 1995:
-In a move designed to provide Ukraine's construction firms with
timber, the Ukrainian government decided to barter food for
timber from Eastern Siberia's Irkutsk region.  In exchange for
timber, Ukraine will ship 1,000 tons of meat, 10,000 tons of food
wheat, 200 tons of dried meat, and 400 tons of butter to Irkutsk
in the first half of 1995.  The Ukrainian government is also
examining the possibility of financing forestry development in
the Irkutsk region.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
February 17-February 24, 1995, p. 5)