Maintaining the high bar set last season, effectively using state support funds - this was the task set for the industry for 2017 by the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Alexander Tkachev, speaking at the All-Russian agronomic meeting on February 1 in Moscow.
Summing up the results of the past year and determining the development vectors for the near future, the Minister emphasized that agro-industrial complex today is one of the drivers of the Russian economy: “Our time has come, our country needs us!”
During his speech, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation reminded the audience about the record indicators of 2016 in the harvest of wheat, corn, buckwheat, sunflower, soybeans, and especially sugar beet. Last year, agricultural producers harvested about 50 million tons of it.
According to this indicator, Russia came out on top in the world, ahead of France, the United States and Germany. “This will allow us to produce about 6 million tons of sugar, thereby not only fully providing the domestic market, but also increasing exports, exceeding 200 thousand tons per year,” the minister added.
The current priority Alexander Tkachev called preparation for spring sowing. In 2017, it is planned to sow more than 80 million hectares of land.
Traditionally, in anticipation of the start of the season, the meeting participants raised many topical issues.
Putting agricultural land into circulation
A significant part of the report of the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues, Vladimir Kashin, was devoted to the need to introduce abandoned agricultural land into circulation.
According to him, over the past quarter century, in the structure of the land fund, the area of agricultural land has been reduced by almost half. From 637,7 million hectares in 1990, by 2016 a little more than 383 million hectares remained in the country. Of particular concern is the reduction of agricultural land by 25 million hectares, of which 17,2 million hectares were arable land.
Thus, there are more than 41,5 million hectares of land withdrawn from crop rotation in Russia, and more than 56 million hectares, or 14,5% of agricultural land, are not used for their intended purpose.
The head of the committee called the task of involving abandoned lands into circulation a matter of national importance, comparable to raising virgin lands, which the country will not be able to cope with without a special federal target program, without adequate funding.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, about half of Russian agricultural producers do not use mineral fertilizers on their fields. Such savings are not the best way affects the quality and quantity of the crop.
Alexander Tkachev, Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation:
“Our time has come, our country needs us!”
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues Vladimir Kashin also called the fertilizer issue one of the most acute: “The depletion of soil fertility is facilitated by a reduction in the amount of applied mineral fertilizers - compared to 1990, today it is applied five times less. It turns out to be a paradoxical situation - we use only 18% of the 10 million tons of mineral fertilizers (active substance) produced in Russia per year, and the rest is exported. "
But in the coming season there are all prerequisites to correct the situation. According to Igor Kaluzhsky, executive director of the Russian Association of Fertilizer Manufacturers, the Russian fertilizer market is now in a very comfortable situation: prices have fallen below last year's level, the entire product range is presented in necessary volumes and even beyond them (the Association has provided a reserve to provide fertilizers to everyone) .
At the same time, Igor Kaluzhsky drew the attention of the audience to the fact that mineral fertilizers often remain inaccessible goods for farms, the mechanism of interaction between farmers and chemical giants remains undeveloped, which is actively used by scammers. At the moment, more than 100 criminal cases have been opened. This means that the farms affected by the alleged intermediaries were left without money and without fertilizers.
Executive Director of the Russian Association of Fertilizer Manufacturers:
"The situation on the Russian fertilizer market is now very comfortable: prices have dropped below the level of last year, the entire range of products is presented in the required volumes and even above them ..."
A brief forecast of the situation on the Russian crop production market in 2017 was proposed by Dmitry Rylko, IKAR Director General.
He noted that most of the crops, in the cultivation of which the Russians achieved record results, gave a good harvest in other countries of the world, which could not but affect prices.
In particular, today we can talk about very high carry-over grain stocks that will “crush” world prices until the end of the season. The same applies to oilseeds, with the exception of rapeseed. The rapeseed crop in the EU caused a sharp rise in prices for this popular crop (rapeseed in Europe is actively used for biofuel production).
But the richest sugar beet crop in Russia was an exception against the general background, many producing countries of raw sugar this year suffered from drought. It was this circumstance that helped to avoid large losses in our market, not ready for such a volume of product.
Summing up, the ICAR Director General suggested that in order to revive the situation and increase the dynamics in areas of interest to our agricultural producers, some notable events should occur in the world or new powerful markets should be formed (comparable to the biofuel market, for example).
Subsidies and soft loans
The main information regarding the changes that have occurred in the system of measures of state support for agricultural producers was provided by Natalia Chernetsova, director of the Department of Economics and State Support of the Agro-Industrial Complex of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation.
She recalled that today there are 7 areas of state support: a single subsidy (which has absorbed most of the previously existing areas), subsidizing part of the interest rate, support for investment loans through reimbursement of direct costs incurred, unrelated support, support for increasing productivity in dairy farming and support for the participants of two federal programs - "Melioration" and "Sustainable Development of Rural Areas".
In 2017, some adjustments were made to the mechanism for obtaining certain subsidies. For example, on January 21, a new procedure for the selection of projects claiming to reimburse direct investment costs was fixed - an important selection criterion is now the availability of permission to commission the facility.
The director of the department of economics and state support of the agro-industrial complex also touched upon the current topic of soft loans. She noted that this year the priority areas for concessional lending included dairy and beef cattle breeding, the construction of greenhouses and the cultivation of greenhouse vegetables, as well as all projects that are being implemented in the Far East. Applications received from enterprises of other areas will be retained; in the future, agricultural producers who submit them can also expect to receive a loan on favorable terms.
Natalia Chernetsova explained that the total amount allocated for soft loans (21,3 billion rubles) is not very large, the need for them is much higher, but it was necessary to focus on filling the budget. The head of the Department of Economics also noted that at the moment, the Ministry of Agriculture has asked the Prime Minister to allocate an additional 14 billion rubles, and there is hope that support will be received, since everyone understands how important it is for the sowing campaign to be completed on time and in full.
As Petr Chekmarev, Director of the Department of Plant Growing, Mechanization, Chemicalization and Plant Protection of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, noted, “we have one problem with this crop - overproduction”. Nevertheless, there are still shifts in its solution: the process of exporting marketable and seed potatoes has begun.
True, according to the director of the department, in order to free up the market and adjust prices, it is necessary to send 2-3 million tons of product abroad and build 1-2 processing enterprises in each “potato” region.
The discussion about the prospects of potato growing during the meeting was continued by Alexander Tkachev, who warned industry participants from rash steps to change the specialization of farms, recalling that market needs are changing, and the development of new directions always requires serious investments. According to the minister, constancy and consistency will not allow our manufacturers to lose quality.
Information on the current state of the agricultural insurance market in Russia at the meeting was presented by Korney Bizhov, president of the Union of Unified Insurers of the Agro-Industrial Forum.
He noted that over the past four years, regions with favorable climatic conditions remain the leaders in payments received due to crop losses in the country. According to the NSA, the most payments for policies with state support concluded by members of the union for the entire period of the law on state support for agricultural insurance received farms in Tatarstan (1,176 billion rubles); agricultural producers of the Stavropol Territory (625 million rubles), agrarians of the Krasnodar Territory (529 million rubles) and the Belgorod Region (334 million rubles).
The main risks for which payments were made under contracts with state support are soil and atmospheric droughts, dry winds and waterlogging of the soil. These 4 risks account for about 80% of all payments made by the NSA since 2012. This year, insurers forecast a large percentage of payments in the latter direction.
Agricultural insurance reached targets in 28 regions. There are areas where insurance covers more than 20% and even 30% of crop companies.
The President of the Union of Insurers explained that the spread of agricultural insurance largely depends on measures taken by the regional authorities of the agro-industrial complex. As an illustration, he suggested comparing the indicators of the Samara region, where the coverage of crops by insurance in 2015 was 18%, and Saratov (0,1% of crops).
The theme of weather in the audience of plant growers is always of particular importance. The director of the Hydrometeorological Center Roman Vilfand briefly outlined the current situation on the fields of the country, noting that in most regions there were severe frosts in winter, but there was enough snow everywhere, so lower temperatures did not affect the condition of winter crops. Now we can say that conditions that are extremely favorable for the future harvest are preserved practically throughout the whole country.
Roman Villefand also voiced a preliminary forecast for the 2017 sowing campaign. According to the country's chief meteorologist, in the bulk of the regions, field work will begin at a time close to standard. Perhaps a little earlier farmers will be able to start work from the southern regions (Stavropol, Krasnodar Territory).