The Prime Minister spoke at the strategic session, Food Security in Russia and the World, and presented state awards to agricultural workers for their great contribution to the development of agriculture.
Good afternoon, colleagues, friends.
I am glad to welcome you to the 24th Russian agro-industrial exhibition “Golden Autumn.”
Let me start by wishing a happy upcoming professional day to everyone in this audience. This Sunday will mark Agriculture and Processing Industry Worker’s Day. I would like to thank employees from these industries for everything they are doing to ensure our country’s food security.
This includes record high harvests and a wide selection of high-quality products for every consumer, as well as new jobs in rural areas. Of course, this also includes the introduction of modern agricultural methods that increase domestic producers’ independence from foreign suppliers, thus ensuring the industry’s sustainability and improving its competitiveness.
The demand for agricultural products and food from Russia is growing every year. The sanctions imposed by unfriendly countries or other challenges are not a problem for today’s agriculture sector. The “Golden Autumn” exhibition shows the regions’ actual achievements in many industries.
I have spoken with a number of governors today, and almost all of their regions have record high harvests this year.
Our regions’ successes include everything from expanded product lines to new high-tech industries, and from training skilled agricultural personnel to creating modern rural infrastructure. The credit for these successes goes to agriculture and food industry workers.
The President has set ambitious goals for reliably ensuring the country's food security today and in the future. To do so, we must increase output not only to cover domestic needs, but for exports as well.
The Government is working on this guided by the presidential instructions. We are well aware of the importance of ensuring the stable development of the domestic agriculture, improving efficiency, strengthening the technological infrastructure, and supporting small and medium-sized rural businesses.
Our agriculture has shown truly strong results. Russia has been a net food exporter for three years now. That is, we sell more than we buy.
Export volumes have increased by more than 16 percent compared to the same period last year, even amid the challenging circumstances of the past eight-plus months. We remain among the top five countries in terms of grain exports, the number one international exporter of wheat, and we rank fourth in meat production, and fifth among vegetable oil exporters.
I will briefly review this year’s preliminary performance results.
We will achieve the Food Security Doctrine targets for grains, vegetable oil and sugar, meat and meat products, fish and fish products. It is already clear that we will have a record grain harvest; it will exceed the level of five years ago, over 135 million tonnes of grain. This year, more than 140 million tonnes have been threshed.
Significant achievements have been made with other crops, including oilseeds. Fruit production is also on the rise even though fruit is expensive and difficult to grow in our climate, and cannot be cultivated in every part of the country. But we expect a record harvest of over 1.5 million tonnes of fruits and berries.
Current state support measures have clearly been effective because per hectare yields have increased. This means that farmers were provided with enough mineral fertiliser, seed stock, equipment and fuel and lubricants for the spring planting, on time and in full. We just discussed this at length as we toured the exhibition.
We also keep track of agricultural producers’ needs during the autumn field work, including harvesting, planting winter crops, and laying out orchards and vineyards. Later we plan to discuss the results of this season with the Government, as well as further steps to develop the agro-industrial complex. These issues are always on our agenda.
Colleagues, these achievements in the agricultural sector are the result of joint and systematic efforts with the participation of the Government, the regions, and industry leaders. The State Programme for the Development of Agriculture is one of the most important tools in this area. This year, more than 280 billion roubles have been set aside in the federal budget to implement it. In view of ongoing challenging developments, state support for this industry has increased by 35 percent. We were able to provide it with these resources and, as of late September, we have made over 380 billion roubles available for moving the state programme forward.
Meanwhile, the Government is prepared to act swiftly to meet the agricultural industry’s requests being mindful of the difficulties that agricultural businesses are facing due to unfriendly countries’ actions, including foreign trade barriers, disrupted supply chains, and rising prices in related sectors.
Things were like that in the spring, when we moved quickly to make a number of decisions as a follow-up to the presidential instruction to set aside extra funds to cover low-cost short-term and investment loans in this industry. This made it possible for us to keep the rate under 5 percent for farmers.
We have sped up the delivery of subsidies and transfers from the federal budget to farmers by instituting an advance payment mechanism in the regions in certain areas of business.
Funding was also made available to renew the agricultural equipment fleet.
We keep helping exporters who are widely expanding the geography of deliveries, including to the Middle East and Africa. We have simplified the rules governing the mandatory volume of sales of agricultural products to foreign markets.
Small and medium-sized rural businesses are another important area of focus. Over 5.5 billion roubles were allocated this year to support farmers and promote rural cooperation, which brought an additional 13,500 people into agricultural consumer cooperative societies. More than 1,000 family-operated farms and farming enterprises have won the Agrostartup grant.
Starting this year, private farm holders have access to low-cost loans as well, provided they are registered as self-employed and pay the professional income tax. We believe that this will encourage people to start their own business and be accountable to the state in a very straightforward fashion.
These strands of state support will continue into the future. The new draft federal budget has been submitted to the State Duma and provides for over 340 billion roubles for implementing the state programme next year.
Ensuring steady and tangible improvements in the quality of rural life for millions of our citizens is an important part of our work. Our President conveyed this many times. The people who I meet with when I travel to the regions also say this. We have been working on this task as part of implementing the programme for the integrated development of rural areas for the third year now. It covers over 9 million people, in fact, one in four rural dwellers.
Popular tools, such as 3-percent rural mortgages have been developed and put in place during this time which helped more than 103,000 households improve their living conditions. Most recently, we have decided to make it permanent.
Infrastructure projects for the integrated development and improvement of rural areas are quite popular.
As part of this programme, we plan to open to traffic 124 motor roads before the end of the year.
Under other programmes, we are building rural schools and rural health posts, renovating cultural community centres, which the locals also mention to us during our meetings, opening athletic grounds, and creating a high-quality comfortable environment for rural residents, also with an eye towards making these places attractive to young professionals. Not only young, though, since there are grown people who relocate from urban areas to the countryside. I personally spoke with five or seven such people, and they all spoke of how well and comfortable they feel in the new circumstances.