Agriculture support measures must not contract with Russian WTO membership - Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that after Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization domestic agricultural producers will receive sufficient assistance form the state regardless of the abandonment of direct state support.

At a meeting devoted to the grain market situation and preparations for the spring planting, Medvedev pointed out the need to increase the effectiveness of state-support mechanisms for the agricultural sector in the context of Russia's WTO membership.

In joining the WTO, Russia has undertaken certain obligations, particularly abandoning the extension of direct state support measures to agricultural producers in favor of so-called 'indirect' measures, including fuel cost breaks, the prime minister said.

"I consider that these so-called indirect measures suffice for agrarians to receive virtually the same measure of support as was until the moment of WTO accession," he said.

Starting this year, a new state-support measure is on the table - subsidies per hectare of planted cropland, Medvedev said. Almost 15 billion rubles is earmarked in the federal budget for these goals, he said.

"They have to be gotten to farms in timely fashion. This is a ministry job, and I am paying attention. Everything needs to be done on time and precisely as laid out," he said.

"The Agriculture Ministry, along with the Finance Ministry and Economic Development Ministry, when readying proposals for the allocation of additional budget appropriations - around forty billion rubles - are to keep in mind as a priority the provision of indirect support in the field of crop-growing, and also compensation for the costs of producing livestock-farming products in light of price growth for feed," Medvedev said.

The head of government tasked the Agriculture and Finance Ministries with taking steps for the timely provision of fuels and lubricants to growers. "And at that, it is necessary to pay attention even outside the context of our indirect measures to accessible prices," he said.

Medvedev said that need for financing of the spring fieldwork combines to an estimated 263.5 billion rubles, including more than 150 billion rubles in credit resources.

"I'd like for you to inform me about how the crediting of agricultural producers is going, factoring in that rates on the credit market, to put it mildly, are far from optimal," Medvedev said to the meeting attendees, among whom were governors taking part by video.

The prime minister also said that preparations for the spring planting need to be discussed. The overall area to be sown with crops is predicted to be 50 million hectares. Growers plan to pay special attention to feed crops, the area under which will increase by almost a million hectares.

Also on the meeting agenda is the question of the state of the winter crops, which cover around sixteen million hectares. "The situation in the regions, as usual, varies. The estimate we now have is that around 90% of the [crops] are in satisfactory condition. I'd like governors to inform [me] about what is happening with the winter [crops] in the regions," Medvedev said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.