Summary: The overall finding of this report is that much agricultural policy is made at the regional level, and here the explicit price, and trade policy distortions are significantly worse than at the federal level. The result is patchwork of inconsistent policies, that has fragmented the Russian national market. The most serious policy issues at the federal level, are in the legal framework, the continued state domination of some markets, and, the administration of limited subsidies, in ways that undermine market development. A major problem is that large farms face soft budget constraints, with tolerance of non-payment of debt, resulting in an increasing debt burden, little incentive for true restructuring, and an uneven playing field with respect to the private sector. The government recently addressed the issue of farm insolvency, through the Resolution on Agricultural Debt Restructuring, and, a fundamental approach to this problem is being elaborated in the draft Law on Financial Rehabilitation of Agricultural Enterprises. But the key to giving enterprises an incentive to participate in real restructuring, will be to enforce sanctions - including bankruptcy procedures, and foreclosure - if enterprises fail to comply with the terms, and measures developed by creditors, and investors, as part of the restructuring procedures. A supportive environment of private individual farming, and private market development should be created, by revamping agricultural support policies, that halt public procurement at federal, and regional levels; that administer all subsidies to producers, by some incentive-neutral mechanism, not dependent on input usage, or output; and, where input, or credit subsidies continue, if administered by private channels on a competitive basis, not through state-owned, or monopoly suppliers.
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