Soviet Agriculture: Record of Stagnation

January 29, 1964

Report Outline
Trouble on U.S.S.R.'s Socialized Farms
Fundamentals of Russia's Farm Problem
Years of Stagnation Under Khrushchev

Trouble on U.S.S.R.'s Socialized Farms

A Disastrously Poor Harvest last year gave the Soviet Union one more of communism's many farm failures. Now Moscow is forced to make bulk purchases of wheat from the capitalist West. Raised once again is the specter of severe food shortages in the future unless Premier Khrushchev's crash program to develop the chemical fertilizer industry brings Soviet agriculture out of the stagnation in which it has been mired much of the time for years.

Soviet farm problems make it more than ever prudent for the Kremlin to avoid exacerbating the cold war. It needs to cultivate improved relations with the West if it wants to make further grain purchases or obtain favorable credit terms for the planned purchase of entire chemical plants from foreign countries. It is the consensus of Western experts that crop failures since Russia's last bumper grain harvest five years ago have rolled up a crisis of grave proportions.

According to a Central Intelligence Agency document (Soviet Economic Problems Multiply) made public Jan. 9, per capita Soviet agricultural production was 10 per cent lower in 1963 than in 1958, the bumper harvest year. Total Soviet farm output declined 4 per cent in 1962 and probably more than 4 per cent in 1963, C.I.A. analysts estimated. Agricultural failures were identified in the report as the “single most important factor” in holding the over-all Soviet economic growth rate to only 2.5 per cent in both 1962 and 1963.

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