President Vladimir Putin: Good day, dear friends,
We are currently marking a serious, and I think momentous date – the beginning of the development of the virgin lands. This began in March 1954, and as we would say today, it was a major nationwide project.
We have heard a lot of different things about the virgin lands over the years, and about their development. Now, after half a century has gone by, we can say for sure: the decision was a justified one. And the people who worked there, who went here – and many people went there, it should be said, following the call of their hearts from all over the country, it was a nationwide effort – carried out the task that was put before the virgin lands workers. And not just for that period of time. I should note that today we still receive over 40% of the harvest from these regions, and a third of all meat and milk. This is what was done by the virgin lands workers, and everyone who worked on the virgin lands and continues to work there – and this is still needed by the country, and we make use of it today – works for the good of the citizens of Russia.
I want to congratulate you, and all the virgin lands workers, on this important date.
I also want to say that in recent years – you probably know about this, as many of you are still directly involved with agriculture – there have been certain positive improvements in this sector of the economy, even if we would like them to be more extensive. We are gathering record harvests for Russia and introducing new technology, the number of loss-making factories is dropping, and modern forms of farming are developing in the country such as leasing, and new financial mechanisms, which are acknowledged and supported by those who work in the country today.
We will continue to support Russian manufacturers, carefully and without violating market mechanisms and principles, and without creating problems for agriculture production consumers. I mean a balanced customs and tariff policy, and so on. We will do all of this. We will also undoubtedly do this with the use of your experience. The experience of those who came to the virgin lands 50 years ago, and those who worked there for many years, giving years of their lives to serving their country.
I want to inform you that yesterday I signed a decree. We reintroduced a medal which existed in Russia from 1913. It will be called ”For work in agriculture.“ I think that this is quite justified, bearing in mind not just the fact that almost 40% of the working population in Russia lives in the country, but also the fact that the agrarian sector is one of the most important sectors of the Russian economy. And the people ho work there, and who work successfully, should feel both material satisfaction and recognition from society, expressed in such forms of gratitude from the state.