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Russia harvests well-enough grain crop in 2003
MOSCOW, December 28 (Itar-Tass) - Russia has garnered in a well-enough grain crop in the outgoing year and successfully protected itself from low-quality meat. According to the Agriculture Ministry, farmers harvested 73.5 million tonnes of grain, which amounted to 67.2 million tonnes after an appropriate processing. “It is a well-enough crop, not a record-breaking as it was in the past year, but well-enough and sufficient to settle all domestic issues,” confirmed the Russian president, speaking live in the TV and radio broadcasting on December 18. At the same time, the year 2003 witnessed a price hike for bread, which was mostly attributed to a price rise in world markets and, as a result, to a desire by businessmen to net an utmost profit. However, apart from meeting its own requirements in grain, Russia could also help other countries in 2003. For instance Russia delivered 10,000 tonnes of grain to Moldova. Russia also made deliveries to Ukraine, while in May, it sent food wheat to Iraq under the U.N. programme “Oil for food”. The year 2003 tested for strength the sanitary and veterinary control system, protecting the Russian market from import of low-quality or dangerous foods. In the opinion of Agriculture Ministry officials, “the system coped well, on the whole, with this task”. The veterinary department of the ministry banned several times meat imports to Russia from countries where animals fell ill with diseases, dangerous for men. For instance Russia temporarily banned this year the import of chicken to the country from Sweden and Norway as well as from Belgium. Suppliers of Canadian and U.S. beef were also turned down: “mad cow disease” was detected among their animals. To protect national producers, the Russian government imposed a quota system for import of U.S. meat early this year. The Agriculture Ministry claimed that this move “will help to boost meat production in the country”. Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev told reporters on Sunday that it was possible to map out approaches to resolving the main problems in fishing. A new law on fishing and conservation of water resources is to be adopted early in 2004. The approval of quotas for fishing biological resources not for one but at least for five years will be the main feature in the law. According to the minister, long-term appropriation of quotas for fishing biological resources will eventually “help to plan fishing activities of companies, to renovate the Russian fleet and to supply caught resources precisely to the Russian coast”. Besides, new legislation will help to step up nature protection activities and to raise efficiency of measures to preserve biological resources. Summing up the results of the year as a whole, Gordeyev said that it was possible to settle many essential questions of the food policy. He noted that the state realised the law on financial invigoration of agricultural producers, finalised the federal programme on “social development of the countryside”, made amendments to the law on the federal budget, providing for a 35-percent increase in the volume of planned funds to support agricultural producers. Speaking of plans for the future, the minister said that an easy taxation system for agricultural producers would start operating in 2004. It provides for a single agricultural tax. Gordeyev also said that the ministry plans to submit (by April 2004) a new federal law on “the development of agriculture till 2010” for the consideration of the State Duma.
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