RUSAG-L: Current Events #60

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.


4 July 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4538 per
dollar.  (The Washington Post, July 4, 1995).


 3 July 1995:
 
-Health officials fear the selling of unhealthy foodstuffs may
lead to a massive outbreak of food poisoning in some of Russia's
largest cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.  They cite
health statistics which show that 14 percent of domestic meat and
dairy products failed tests for acceptable levels of chemical
content and 18 percent did not conform to bacteriological
standards.  (OMRI, July 3, 1995).

-Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that Russia's
inflation rate had fallen from 7.9 percent in May to 6.7 percent
in June.  He said the government hopes to reduce the monthly
inflation rate to 2 percent by the end of the year.  In the
meantime, Chernomyrdin cautioned foreign investors not to miss
the opportunity to invest heavily in Russia because of continued
reports of political instability.  Direct foreign investment in
Russia dropped 25 percent in the first quarter of 1995, compared
to the last quarter of 1994.  (OMRI, July 3, 1995).

-Russian fisherman on the Pacific coast continue to strike to
protest the fact that they have not been paid in more than two
years.  The strike is in its fifth month.  (Jamestown
Organization, July 3, 1995).


2 July 1995:

-The second no-confidence vote against Chernomyrdin's government,
which would have forced Russia's President Boris Yeltsin to
either dismiss the government or disband the Parliament, failed
by a vote of 193 to 117 with 48 abstentions.  Agrarian Party
members, who successfully opposed the government last month,
refrained from voting on the July 1 ballot.  Apparently,
Chernomyrdin offered the Agrarians concessions in exchange for
not voting against the government, such as, higher prices for
grain production and relief for farmers hit by this summer's
severe drought. (The Washington Post, July 2, 1995).


29 June 1995:

-Russian Labor Minister Gennady Melikian said the 113 percent
minimum wage increase in April has done little to counter the
declining living standards of most Russians.  Despite the
pressure it would put on federal and local budgets, Melikian
suggests raising the minimum wage from April's 43,700 rubles per
month to 65,000 rubles a month by early autumn to stem the
decline.  Real incomes have fallen 20 percent since September
1994.  In addition, few Russians receive the actual minimum wage,
which is used by officials as a multiplier to calculate wages and
benefits throughout the state sector.  (OMRI, June 29, 1995).


28 June 1995:

-According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the US ranks the
highest among foreign investors in Russia, followed by Germany,
Austria, and Iceland.  Between January and May 1995, the direct
foreign investment in Russia amounted to $500 million, compared
to an overall foreign investment of $2 billion at the end of last
year.  Approximately 15 percent of the companies that received
foreign investment in 1994 were backed by US companies.  The
largest investments were in Russia's energy and mining
industries.  (OMRI, June 28, 1995).


23-30 June 1995:

-Vladimir Bashmachnikov says the Russian Union of Landowners,
which was set up by the private farm association, AKKOR, will
support Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's party, "Our Home is
Russia," in the next parliamentary elections.  Bashmachnikov said
Chernomyrdin's party more correctly mirrors the concerns of
private farmers than the Agrarian Party platform.  He
specifically cited issues such as the land market and the right
of farmers to do whatever they choose with the land shares they
receive when their collective farms are reorganized.  AKKOR
represents about two-thirds of Russia's 280,000 private farmers.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 26, June 23-
30, 1995, p. 2).
-Russia's Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture, Vladimir
Shcherbak, told Interfax that Russian farmers have enough
insecticides to fight off the locusts associated with dry, hot
weather.  However, this summer's drought is a more serious threat
to crop production.  5-6 million ha of the 6.3 million ha of
grain ruined by the drought will have to be resown.  The Ministry
of Agriculture and Food has already lowered its grain predictions
from 82 million tons to 73 to 75 million tons.  Russian farmers
harvested 81.3 million tons in 1994, compared to 99 million tons
in 1993 and 106.8 million tons in 1992.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 26, June 23-30, 1995, p. 2).

-Agrarian Party president,Mikhail Lapshin, citing Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, said the government would soon pass an
emergency drought resolution.  The resolution is expected to give
farmers cheap electricity to power irrigation pumps and cheap
freight to ship feed into drought-stricken areas.  24 million ha
of this year's crop area of 102 million ha, including 6 million
ha of grain, has been hit by the drought.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 26, June 23-30, 1995, p. 3).

-Although Moscow has managed to avoid importing grain this year,
the mayor's office says the Moscow city government is poised to
import 80,000 tons of US wheat to meet the city's annual
requirement.  Moscow buys wheat from the Orenburg region, which
has been badly hit by this summer's severe drought.  (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 26, June 23-30, 1995,
p. 3).

-The State Duma passed a bill on farm cooperatives which would
allow cooperative members to take their share of land with them
when they leave the cooperatives or lease their share of land to
the cooperative.  The original bill allowed farmers to contribute
their share to the cooperative without the right to reclaim their
ownership.  Those leaving without land received the cash
equivalent.  Officials expect Parliament to pass this version of
the bill and for Yeltsin to sign the bill into law.  (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 26, June 23-30, 1995,
p. 4).


16-23 June 1995:

-The Russian federal forestry service reported a 20 percent
increase in forest fires during the period between May and June.
Fires destroyed 106,200 ha of forest land and 67,100 ha of other
land.  The situation is particularly critical in the Far East,
especially in Yakutia, where firefighters are left helpless
without federal financing.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, Vol IV, issue 25, June 16-23, 1995, p. 5).

-The Russian Agriculture Ministry expects a further decline in
the number of animals and animal products.  Sales of cattle and
poultry declined by 525,000 tons or 23 percent between January
and May 1995.  Milk production was down 1.446 million tons or 15
percent, and egg production declined 1.536 billion units or 13
percent.  Statistics show Russian farmers have smaller, less
productive herds.  Milk yields, in the same five month period,
fell 4 percent or to 34 kilos per cow, and egg yields were down 2
percent.  The number of cattle on collective farms fell by 4.6
million or 13 percent; 1.3 million for cows or 10 percent; 2.8
million for hogs or 18 percent; 8.7 million for sheep and goats
or 21 percent, and 48 million for poultry or 14 percent.  Experts
believe animal numbers will continue to decline, even on private
farms.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 25,
June 16-23, 1995, p. 8).


AREA OF INTEREST

UKRAINE

16-23 June 1995:

-Valentin Timoshenko, the official in charge of crop farming at
the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture, told Interfax that Ukraine
expects to harvest 40 million tons of grain in 1995, including
18-20 million tons of wheat, which is enough to meet its own
needs.  The government has ordered 10 million tons of wheat and
offered a price of 11 million karbovanets per ton of grain or
approximately $75.  However, the rising cost of fertilizer,
fuels, and other inputs is expected to drive the price up to
closer to 18 million karbovanets.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, Vol IV, issue 25, June 16-23, 1995, p. 3).

-The United States Agency for International Development, USAID,
plans to insure $175 million worth of credit that Ukrainian
farmers plan to use to buy machinery, equipment, and other
imports.  The Ukrainian parliament must first ratify the
agreement before any insurance is made available.  (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 25, 1995).