Three-quarters of Russia’s territory is unsuitable for any type of agriculture, including meat production, according to a new report from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The report revealed that 63 out of 83 territories in the Russian Federation are unsuitable for meat production as a result of weather conditions, quality of soil and other criteria. Interestingly, some of the territories on the “black list” – as it was unofficially called by representatives of the Ministry – are areas where the main production assets of some of the country’s largest meat producers are based.
These include Cherkizovo (Bryansk Oblast, Kursk Oblast, Penza Oblast, Ulyanovsk Oblast), Rusagro (Tambov Region), Razgulay (Kursk Oblast, Orel Oblast, Orenburg Region the Republic of Karachai-Cherkessia, Altai Territory), Miratorg (Bryansk Oblast, Voronezh Oblast, Kursk Oblast), Prodimex (Voronezh Oblast and Penza Oblast), Prioskolye (Altai Territory) and many other producers.
A source in the Ministry of Agriculture explained the list was very important, because it would allow the government to provide unlimited financial support to meat and livestock producers in the 63 regions, which it reckons would be considered disadvantaged areas under WTO rules.
“The fact is that our livestock industry is still weak and we have to support it. This is the mechanism that will allow us to provide the necessary support to the main meat production regions, despite World Trade Organization (WTO) restrictions,” they said.
“This is very important, especially for pork producers that are currently suffering losses, due to the high costs of feed ingredients and massive import supplies. We could support these producers now with tax preferences and direct subsidies. Certain measures are still under consideration.”
Agriculture experts in the country have generally welcomed this measure. An expert at the Russian agricultural agency Agrorucom said: “Such a tool is safe and effective – it will not lead to any complaints from the WTO, while it will allow for an improvement in the competitiveness of the meat industries in these regions. This step has been used by other members of the WTO for decades, so there is nothing special about that.”