RUSAG-L: Current Events #57

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.


 25 May 1995:
 
-The current exchange rate is listed at R5041 per dollar.  (The
Washington Post, May 25, 1995)


17 May 1995:

-The Russian government's Economic Reform Center announced that
the average monthly income of Russians measured in US dollars
fell from $87 in November to $72 in March.  Average real income
is 6 percent lower than one year ago, a condition the Center
attributes to the government's tight credit policy.  In addition,
Goskomstat's latest figures show that approximately 30% of the
population, 44 million people, had monthly incomes below the
subsistence minimum of 385,000 rubles a month. (OMRI, May 17,
1995)


5-12 May 1995:

-The Agrarian Party of Russia announced its intention to stand
alone for the up-coming parliamentary elections.  Mikhail
Lapshin, who heads the Party, said Alexander Zaveryukha, the
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture, had already
committed to run on an Agrarian ticket.  Lapshin is also hoping
to enlist Alexander Nazarchuk, the current agriculture minister,
and Ivan Rybkin, speaker of the Duma, who is yet to announce his
intentions.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 5-12,
1995, p. 2)

-Interfax reports that the Agrarians have scored a coup in the
Federation Council, securing the right to replace a previous
market-oriented program with a new agriculture program, which
envisions massive government subsidies.   Meanwhile, Russian
farmers are sowing faster than last year but expect sharp
slowdowns as old machinery fails.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, May 5-12, 1995, p. 2)

-The Federation Council approved a new program drawn up by the
Ministry of Finance that stipulates farm spending of at least 15%
of budget expenditures by the year 2000.  The program envisions
rebuilding large farms and increasing government regulation for
those industries that provide inputs for the farm sector.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 5-12, 1995, p. 2)

-According to Ivan Gridasov, the official in charge of crop
farming at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, unusually warm
weather across European Russia and Siberia has allowed farmers to
sow more crops than at this same time last year.  12 million ha
of grain have already been sown, or 6.2 million ha more than in
1994.  Sugar beet and sunflower sowing is also going much faster
than last year.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 5-12,
1995, p. 3)

-Russia commands half of the former Soviet Union's salt reserves,
45.4 billion tons, but finds itself short of table salt.
Production at Siberian salt mines fell to just over 2 million
tons in 1994, compared with 2.2 million tons in 1993 and 5.4
million tons in 1986.  Reserves are exhausted at Russia's main
deposits, and the other salt mines are too dangerous to exploit
and need modernization.  The Russian government has asked the
Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the State Committee for
Industrial Policy to take steps to insure increased production.
However, officials at the Agriculture Ministry say the salt
industry needs at least 150 billion rubles to buy new equipment,
some of which would be imported.   (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, May 5-12, 1995, pp. 4-5)

-The Russian Fisheries Committee has ordered a clean-up of
Russia's processing plants in order to meet the stipulations
required to export more fish to the European Union.  Many
companies have already imported new packaging and processing
equipment in efforts to upgrade their facilities to European
standards.  According to the Committee, large fishing
conglomerates, such as Dalryba and Sevryba, will have to build
new vessels and on-shore processing facilities.  Russia ships an
annual 150,000 tons of fish to the European Union.  (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, May 5-12, 1995, p. 10)


CZECH REPUBLIC

25 May 1995:

-President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic vetoed a bill
restricting smoking and reducing alcoholism and other drug
dependency.  Havel refused to sign the bill on the grounds that
it contravened the Paris Convention on the Protection of
Industrial Products.  The Czech Parliament failed to override the
veto but vowed to modify the president's objections and resubmit
the bill.  (OMRI, May 25, 1995)


ROMANIA

25 May 1995:

-Romania's two parliamentary chambers approved a report by a
mediation commission on the draft bill to accelerate
privatization.  The controversial legislation had already been
passed by the two legislative chambers but in varying forms.
Members opposing the privatization legislation are expected to
appeal to the Constitutional Court to block the law. (OMRI, May
25, 1995)


GEORGIA

5-12 May 1995:

-The State Corporation for Grain Products announced that Georgia
has rescinded its 12 percent import tariff for grain and flour.
Georgian farmers currently provide only 10 percent of the 1.1
million-1.2 million tons of grain Georgia needs each year.
Officials hoped to stimulate commercial imports by scrapping the
tariff.  Georgia buys much of its grain and flour from Ukraine
and Kazakhstan and receives substantial aid under credits from
the United States, the European Union, and Turkey.  (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, May 5-12, 1995, p. 6)