Russia could face meat deficit

By fall 2003 Russia could face a deficit of meat and sharp increases in the cost of meat products, said Chair of the Federation Council's Committee on Agrarian and Food Politics Ivan Starikov at a press conference on May 22. He said that Russia can not escape a meat deficit by fall if it does not urgently make changes to the quota mechanism on these products.

Starikov said that before the quota on chicken and turkey began May 1 and the quota on beef and pork began April 1, suppliers delivered to Russia a huge reserve of these items. National Meat Association Director Sergey Yushin said that suppliers had time to provide for a reserve, and now 'want to see how judicial the quotas will be assigned.' He said that 'if in the near future remaining quotas will not be assigned, we will feel a sharp deficit in meat and prices will skyrocket in September and October. At the present time 25% of the quota remains unassigned and by law may be assigned until the end of 2003.'

Moreover, Starikov said that it follows to change the assignment of quotas 'for market principles.' He said that 75% of chicken and turkey come from the US. However, the US primarily delivers red meat that according to the opinion of one senator 'substantially lowers the quality of nutrition of the Russian population.' Starikov also said that 4% of turkey and chicken (30 tonnes) comes to Russia from China. 'Even diplomats are refusing to go to China right now, but we are obliged to by meat from them.'

Starikov said that the price increase will strike the food security of the country. 'Food security, first of all, is a question of income that is does the population have the income necessary to feed itself,' he said.

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