Russian government will continue to support poultry and pig breeding farms until 2018, not until 2015 as was planned before, agriculture minister says

Nevin Barich

Nevin Barich

Jun 17, 2013 – Itar-Tass

ULAN UDE, Russia , June 16, 2013 () – The Russian government will continue to support poultry and pig breeding farms until 2018, not until 2015 as was planned before, Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said on Saturday, June 15.

"Owing to the state support provided earlier in 2008-2012, poultry production more than doubled in Russia and generally meets domestic needs although the situation varies from region to region," he said.

The extension of state support until 2018 was prompted by droughts and the new situation created by Russia's admission to the World Trade Organisation.

Fyodorov stressed that meeting domestic needs does not mean that Russian poultry producers should give up efforts to make their industry more competitive and enter foreign markets.

Last year, Russia for the first time exported 25,700 tonnes of poultry. "There are arrangements, including with the European Union, to continue the export because the WTO opens up markets to us," the minister said.

Nadezhda Shkolkina, deputy head of the Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues, earlier suggested creating an agency for promoting Russian products to foreign markets, including organic food made in Russia, which is especially relevant within the WTO and the European Union.

Shkolkina recalled that the relevant draft law has already been worked out by members of the United Russia faction together with the Ministry of Agriculture.

However Former Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Andrei Slepnev claims that in terms of agriculture, Russia secured "unprecedentedly favourable conditions" for itself during the accession talks with the WTO.

For example, after accession to the WTO Russia will not increase the quota for beef imports but on the contrary has been allowed to cut it. "The situation is favourable in terms of agricultural produce and there is no threat there," he said.

The chairman of the Duma Agrarian Committee, Nikolai Pankov of United Russia, said he was "convinced that our country will become the largest food supplier in the world. This opens up new markets for us, create tremendous opportunities for advancing our products and making them more competitive."

"State support to the sector is an important priority," he added.

Sergei Doronin of Just Russia, deputy chairman of the Duma Agrarian Committee, said "Russian agriculture still has hope for additional support in connection with the accession to the WTO" and "this is probably the main result for 40 million Russian people who are connected with agriculture."

In his opinion, "regions with a harsh climate need additional support".

However the Agriculture Ministry has so far made no final decision on how many regions should be classified as unfavourable for farming in order to qualify for state support following Russia's accession to the WTO.

"There are two approaches. The first one is to select regions solely by natural and climatic criteria. There are 42 such regions covering more than 60 percent of the country's territory. The second approach is to select regions by socioeconomic criteria such as depopulation or a very low quality of life. This will add another 20 regions," Fyodorov said.

"The law addressing this issue has passed the first reading in the State Duma. I personally support the second approach which recognises 62 regions as unfavourable for farming," he said.

Fyodorov has ended a working trip to Buryatia, during which he unveiled a new meat processing factory in Ulan Ude and held a meeting on state support to priority sectors of agriculture and socioeconomic development of rural areas in Buryatia.

-0-zak/

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