The meeting was attended by Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev and, via videoconference, by Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergei Dankvert, Governor of the Altai Territory and Chair of the State Council Commission on Agriculture Viktor Tomenko, governors of the Krasnodar Territory, Stavropol Territory, Amur, Voronezh, Rostov and Saratov regions, Rosagroleasing General Director Pavel Kosov and Chairman of the Board of the Russian Agricultural Bank Boris Listov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
The Minister of Agriculture and I agreed to hold today’s meeting in an expanded format since the spring sowing campaign is a very important time of the year for our agricultural sector. It lays the foundation for the future harvests and will determine whether our agricultural sector is sustainable and can reliably ensure our food security and satisfy consumer demand.
Today, we will review the situation at the national level and in specific regions, and we will have a detailed discussion on additional support measures our agricultural producers need, including in Russia’s new regions – Donbass and Novorossiya.
Only recently, my colleagues and I discussed the importance of increasing the availability of food and other essential goods in these regions. Of course, in addition to improving logistics and expanding the sales infrastructure, this must support local producers, including by developing infrastructure for processing and storing finished goods and ensuring stable sales. Of course, we must help agricultural producers and farmers in these regions to get through the sowing campaign, despite all the current challenges, by assisting them in every possible way in delivering on this essential task.
I have to say that the overall development trends in the Russian agricultural sector have been rather encouraging. Last year, the agricultural production index totalled 110.2 percent with a record crop yield of almost 158 million tonnes.
Is that right, Mr Patrushev, that we had almost 158 million tonnes?
Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: We have never seen anything like this in our recent past.
Dmitry Patrushev: This is an all-time high, Mr President. We never had anything like this in the times of the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic], or in Russia’s recent past. This is the first time.
Vladimir Putin: Once again, I would like to congratulate the agricultural sector workers, all agricultural producers on this achievement, as well as all those without exception who work in rural areas.
We have become self-sufficient in terms of all essential food products. There are also some things that are worth mentioning. I looked up the reference materials: the self-sufficiency rate for grain stands at 185.4 percent, 101.6 percent for meat, 153 percent for fish, 211 percent for vegetable oil, and 103.2 percent for sugar. We are approaching the target indicators for vegetables at 89.2 percent and potatoes at 93.4 percent. At least these are the figures I have here…
Dmitry Patrushev: The figures are absolutely correct.
Vladimir Putin: And milk is at 85.7 percent.
Despite the foreign trade barriers Russia faces, we have been able to increase our agricultural exports to US$41.6 billion in 2022, up from US$37.1 billion in 2021. This is a substantial increase.
Our country has retained its status as one of the world’s key agricultural exporters, and we have proven to be a reliable and predictable partner. We will continue to act along the same lines.
By the end of the 2022–2023 agricultural year, grain exports are expected to be around 55–60 million tonnes.
At the same time, we must take into consideration the fact that on the supply side, the global grain market is quite saturated, and this affects prices and has a bearing on the plans of our agricultural producers. Of course, we must consider all this to make sure that the areas used for cultivating grain do not shrink in Russia.
In this context, I would like to hear the Agriculture Minister’s comment on the current situation in the world and domestic grain markets and on what has been done to support our agricultural producers and develop grain storage infrastructure inside the country.
Now let us turn our attention to some current issues. We will talk about them today as well; they are all linked with the organisation of the sowing campaign.
At present, practically all our agricultural regions are involved in spring fieldwork. As far as I understand, it is progressing according to plan. The main goal here, as is usual in such conditions, and it is even more important due to external restrictions, is to meet the agricultural producers’ demand for seeds, crop protection agents and mineral fertilisers (we are the world leader in this respect, so I think this should be no problem but the work must be duly organised). The same applies to machinery as well as fuel and lubricants.
Naturally, this fully concerns the new regions of the Federation. I would like to emphasise that agricultural producers and farms of Donbass, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions must receive all the necessary support from the state, including the opportunity to use such instruments as preferential lending, subsidies and advancement of costs.
I would like to ask the Agriculture Minister to report on this in detail today, notably, on the sowing campaign in the new regions and in the country in general. I would also like to ask the governors who are on the link with us now to comment on the problems in their regions and, most importantly, to tell us what urgent measures are necessary to resolve these problems, if they exist.
Let’s start. Mr Patrushev, go ahead please.
Vladimir Putin: In the past few years, agriculture in Russia has become a high-tech industry. It requires the most serious attention if we want to develop it in this vein. This is why we have achieved the results we talked about – the results of the past year. This wasn’t random. Yes, the circumstances were favourable, including the climate, but if the industry had not made such progress in the past few years these results would not have been achieved.
I would like to emphasise that this is no time to relax. Yes, we produced a record grain crop; we are self-sufficient in practically all key products; and yes, we are doing well in foreign markets. We are the absolute leader in the price-quality ratio and number one in wheat sales in other markets.
But all these issues we talked about today – machinery, transport availability, compensation for tariffs where necessary, the provision of transport for day-to-day farming operations and the agricultural exports, fuel and lubricants, fertilisers, timely funding, phytosanitary control, seeds and, of course, personnel, as we discussed today, and agricultural science – all these things together allowed us to achieve the results that we talk about and are, of course, proud of.
But let me repeat that this should always be in the focus of our attention and in the focus of attention of the industry staff – the Ministry of Agriculture and, of course, all our colleagues who are taking part in today’s meeting, I mean, we have here today people who are key agricultural producers, thought it definitely concerns all constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
In conclusion, I would like to express hope that if we achieve the same results as last year, it would be great. It is clear that the harvest should be decent. Most importantly, we should continue developing agriculture as a high-tech industry.
I would like to end this meeting now. We will continue monitoring the progress of the fieldwork to see how it is going and will adjust our joint actions, if necessary.
Thank you very much. I wish you every success and good luck.