The government's Department of Information quoted Alexei Gordeyev, Russia's Minister of Agriculture, as saying, at a meeting in Nizhny Novgorod, that Russia is capable of producing at least 80% of all food she needs. Mr. Gordeyev said that his ministry's first priority was alleviating the negative consequences of the reduction of meat imports while its domestic production was being increased. The minister said that about 40% of all meat consumed in Russia was imported. The country produces USD 10 billion worth of agricultural products and imports USD 8 billion worth of them. The minister believes that Russia's agricultural producers need tough protective measures. He also said that in 2003 poultry imports would be cut by 25%, pork imports - by 22%, and beef imports - by 16%, which must stimulate the growth of domestic production.
Mr. Gordeyev also said the government was preparing a number of measures to assure 100% of the necessary field work. In March, a governmental directive concerning budgetary loans to producers is expected. Also, measures such as raising petroleum export tariffs may be taken in order to stabilise the domestic prices of fuel and lubricants till after the completion of field work.