Farming and Food in Communist Lands

December 1, 1960

Report Outline
Soviet Agriculture's Gains and Setbacks
Farming in European Satellite Countries
Communist China's Poor Food Outlook

Soviet Agriculture's Gains and Setbacks

Coming Kremlin Review of Agricultural Policy

Poor harvests in the Soviet Union, Red China and the Soviet satellite countries of Eastern Europe indicate that nations of the Communist bloc may soon face distressing food shortages. Famine is improbable even in undernourished Communist China, which has suffered its second bad crop year in succession. But the Chinese crop failures may seriously retard industrialization programs financed largely through the proceeds of exports of agricultural commodities.

Russia with a diversified agriculture and large food stocks is best prepared to withstand harvest setbacks. They nevertheless may make it difficult for the Soviet Union to achieve its announced goal of surpassing the present American output of major farm products by 1965. And food shortages in the satellite countries—many of which depend on sizable imports from the Soviet Union—might make their peoples more than usually restive under the Communist yoke.

Natural calamities were blamed for much of the crop damage this year in both the Soviet Union and Red China. In Russia, soil blowing and drought plagued spring sowing and summer growing, while September snows buried millions of acres of ripened wheat before it could be harvested. Drought, flood or pests were the “unprecedented calamities” referred to by Red China's leaders when they told the peasants that the crops of more than half of the country's sown area had been badly damaged. A combination of unfavorable weather and peasant opposition to collectivization contributed to Eastern Europe's disappointingly small agricultural output.

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