Self-nourishment - 19 September, 2002 - News

Russia to protect itself from unfair rivals
A dream cherished by the Soviet Union for almost eighty years has finally come true. Finally, Russia can successfully feed itself, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said today. Moreover, the prime minister promised that measures will be taken to protect Russian agricultural producers from subsidized imports. This means that tariffs on imported grains will subsequently increase.

At the opening of today’s session, Mikhail Kasyanov said, “the government will crackdown on unfair competition.” This concerns restrictions on grain exports. As is known, European governments and governments of other grain exporting countries subsidize their farmers considerably to incite them to export grains. In addition, Russian producers prefer to buy imported grains because of their good quality and reasonable prices. However, the situation is likely to change. The prime minister admits that some people may dislike these measures: “However, if subsidized producers oppress Russian producers working under the market conditions in the Russian Federation, we have to take fair, but well weighted and grounded, measures.” He said that Russia’s agriculture is currently strong enough to provide for the domestic market. If this is so, a question arises as to why subsidies for the Russian agriculture haven’t been yet cancelled. 5.5 billion rubles are set aside in the 2003 budget for this purpose. This is probably thanks to centrist deputies who are very concerned about coming parliamentary elections.

A strong and competitive agricultural producer needs no help from governmental officials. It is good enough to produce as much wheat and rye as necessary and make the price-quality ratio competitive on any of the world markets. However, this doesn’t concern Russian agriculture, which is currently in poor condition, when there are no bank loans, no agrarian infrastructure, and the level of mechanization is low. The only advantage of Russian agricultural producers is cheap manpower, relatively cheap diesel fuel, and the hope for a dry summer, that’s all. Mikhail Kasyanov says: “Russia has been an import-oriented country for a long time already. Currently, we can nourish the country ourselves.” However, there are still doubts. We should wait until next year to see how great the harvest will be then.

Kira Poznakhirko PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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