Russia: Putin pledges state support for farmers

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Mar 11 00:25:08 GMT 2011

Putin pledges state support for farmers
Published: 02 March, 2011, 18:50

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has set out the priorities for the 
national agricultural policy with farmers.

On Wednesday, Putin attended at the 22nd congress of the Association 
of Private Farmers and Agricultural Cooperatives of Russia (AKKOR) in 
Tambov. The prime minister stressed the need to impose tough 
sanctions on those who do not use land intended for agriculture purposes.

The failure to use agriculture land should be punished, Putin said. 
Currently, borders of only 20 percent of land plots have been 
determined. Regional and municipal authorities should distribute land 
among "those who want to develop agricultural production, those who 
want to become farmers," the prime minister noted.

Putin also warned that speculators should not receive land to profit 
on it. "Land should be distributed to those who will work on it, for 
whom it is way of life," he said.

To help farmers, government-related banks should pay special 
attention to lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and 
private farms, Putin noted. The regions will also be obliged to build 
up lending, including through guarantee funds that have already been 
set up in 77 regions.

The prime minister vowed to take tough action against insurance 
companies, which default on their obligations to drought-stricken 
farmers. "No one needs insurance businesses that merely leech off 
government support measures," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.

Some insurance companies have refused to compensate for the damage 
caused by the recent drought under various pretexts. Six companies 
have already had their licenses revoked. "If necessary, we shall 
involve law enforcement agencies and prosecutors," the prime minister 
warned. The government has earmarked five billion rubles of federal 
funds to insure this year's crop.

As many Russian farms need to modernize their fleet of agricultural 
vehicles, Putin suggested that a special government program be 
developed. That would stimulate the production of high-tech foreign 
agro-equipment at Russian enterprises. Farmers should get rid of 
junk, the prime minister said. He added that Russian enterprises were 
starting to produce new models, and some foreign producers have 
already been coming to the Russian market.

Putin also instructed the government to analyze the current situation 
on the fertilizer market and to develop measures to retain the price 
growth. The state allocations have not been spent efficiently, and a 
higher state funding only partially compensate for the fertilizer 
price growth.

The Russian government will continue to monitor the situation on the 
food market. "It is necessary to enable farmers to receive fair 
payment for their goods," Putin said. In his words, farmers should 
not sell their products "for pennies, while shoppers in supermarkets 
see absolutely different price tags."

Putin suggested that more specialized farmers' markets and 
agricultural fairs be established. Creating the whole infrastructure 
of harvesting, processing and marketing with clear and understandable 
rules for the industry is one of the basic tasks of the national 
agricultural policy, the prime minister said.
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