RUSAG-L: Current Events #58

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.

7 June 1995:
 
-The current exchange rate is listed at R4958 per dollar.  (The
Washington Post, May 7, 1995)

5 June 1995:

-Russia's inflation rate, which has decreased every month this
year, stands at 7.9%.  This is Russia's lowest inflation level
since September 1994.  The government predicts the level will
fall below 2% by the end of the year. (OMRI, June 5, 1995)

-Rosgidromet (the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and
Environmental Monitoring) is predicting that Russia's winter
crops will yield 23-26 million tons of grain, including 19.5 to
21.5 million tons of wheat.  Rosgidromet published the figures
despite the Federal Security Services' claim that such statistics
should remain classified because "harvest prospects have a direct
relationship to commercial secrets and can immediately affect the
level of world grain prices."  (OMRI, June 5, 1995)

3 June 1995:

-Russian Agriculture and Food Minister Alexander Nazarchuk
announced on a tour of Stavropol Territory that the government
would no longer provide state loans to the agricultural sector.
Nazarchuk said state and collective farms, as well as private
farms, would have to secure loans through commercial banks.  He
said the action was necessary to stabilize the economy and
restore the health of the federal budget.  (Lexis/Nexis through
Mead Data Central, Inc., The British Broadcasting Corporation,
June 3, 1995)

2 June 1995:

-The Federal Security Services wants to prohibit the publication
of winter-crop harvest projections.  A spokesman for the Services
told Interfax that harvest information should be considered a
"commercial secret."  The Duma's Security Committee chairman,
Viktor Ilyukhin, and the Chairman of the Budget Committee,
Gennady Kulik, supported the Services' suggestion.  Ilyukhin
argued that publishing harvest figures gave Western states
leverage to use against Russian security interests.  Agriculture
Minister Alexander Nazarchuk has forecast a winter harvest of
approximately 82 million tons, but officials expect the harvest
to be much lower. (OMRI, June 2, 1995)

-State Duma Speaker and member of the Agrarian Party, Ivan
Rybkin, continues to try to build a new left-center electoral
bloc.  Rybkin claims that at least 120 to 140 Deputies are
interested in the bloc, which will be mostly concerned with the
pace of reforms.  (OMRI, June 2, 1995)

26 May-June 2, 1995:

-President Boris Yeltsin, speaking at a teaching farm in
Yakhromsky, said the Russian government intended to focus on
limiting imports that hurt Russian farmers.  He urged Russians to
eat more of their own food and to stay away from imports.
Yeltsin said he is hoping for a good harvest, but initial
predictions are forecasting a grain harvest of no more than 81.3
million tons.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 26-June
2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, p. 3)

-AKKOR, the private farmers' association, warned that private
farmers may have to let 15%-20% of their 8 million ha of arable
land lie fallow.  AKKOR's president, Vladimir Bashmachnikov,
blamed the government, complaining that private farmers had still
only received 10 billion rubles of the 314 billion rubles
earmarked for them in the budget.  In addition, the government
has agreed to buy produce from only a very limited number of
private farms and without the advance payments usually handed out
to state and collective farms.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, May 26-June 2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, p. 3)

-Official statistics cite 262,000 private farms in Russia,
covering 12 million ha of farmland or 5.3% of Russia's total.
Between 1992-1994, private farms accounted for 2% of gross
agricultural products.  46,000 or 16% of private farms have
folded, including 27,000 in 1994 and 6,000 in the first quarter
of 1995.  Only 3,500 new private farms were set up in the first
quarter of 1995.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 26-
June 2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, p. 4)

-Anatoly Chubais, first deputy prime minister and Russia's top
economic reformist, attacked Moscow authorities for importing
large quantities of food, instead of relying on produce from
Russian farmers.  Chubais argued that Russian farmers had to
virtually use force to get into the city's markets.  He
reiterated his support for the new import food tariffs, which
Chubais argues is needed to protect domestic farmers from
competition.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, May 26-June
2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, 1995, p 4)

-The Russian government passed a resolution requiring Moscow city
to limit its purchases of imported foods and buy more domestic
food products.  The resolution set limits on how much vegetables,
meat, and dairy products Moscow could purchase from abroad.  The
resolution comes after a scathing attack by Anatoli Chubais on
the city's purchasing habits.  Chubais accused Moscow city
bureaucrats of having close ties to importers. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, May 2-June 2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, p. 5)

-Russia increased its exports of forest products by 58 percent or
$838 million worth between January and April of 1995.  An
official at Roslesprom, the government agency responsible for
Russia's timber, pulp and paper industries, attributed the rise
in exports to the fact that Russia shipped more finished value-
added goods and less round timber.  However, high energy and
freight costs have lessened export margins.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, May 26-June 2, 1995, Vol IV, Issue 22, p. 6)