Soviet Union Table of Contents
Following the disappointing performance of Soviet agriculture during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the Twelfth Five-Year Plan got off to a promising start, with larger than expected grain harvests and improved labor productivity. Nevertheless, Western analysts viewed as unrealistic most of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan production targets--both those set forth in the Food Program of 1982 and those subsequently revised downward.
According to the document Basic Directions for the Economic and Social Development of the USSR for 1986-1990 and for the Period to the Year 2000, the Soviet Union would significantly increase production of all agricultural commodities. The ambitious 1990 production target ranges laid out in this document called for increases over the average annual output of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. The target ranges for agricultural commodities were as follows: grain from 38.7 to 41.4 percent; sugar beets from 20.6 to 24.5 percent; sunflower seeds from 48.9 to 50.9 percent; potatoes from 14.9 to 17.4 percent; vegetables from 36.9 to 43.7 percent; fruits, berries, and grapes from 40.4 to 51.6 percent; raw cotton from 9.5 to 13.1 percent; meat from 10.7 to 29.4 percent; milk from 12.1 to 16.3 percent; and eggs from 7.5 to 10.2 percent. The 1990 goals for the fishing industry ranged from 4.4 to 4.6 million tons of fish food products and about 3 billion cans of fish preserve. The forestry industry was tasked with increasing the production of pulp by 15 to 18 percent, of paper by 11 to 15 percent, and of fiberboard by 17 to 20 percent. As in all sectors of the economy, conservation of raw materials and reduction of waste in transportation and storage of commodities were to be emphasized more than in any previous period.
Although grain harvests were excellent in 1986 and 1987, output fell to only 195 million tons in 1988, forcing the Soviet Union to import more than 36 million tons that year. The 1988 harvest of potatoes, other vegetables, and fruits also declined as compared with the previous two years. As a result, the availability of food products throughout the country worsened, and in mid-1989 many Western observers believed a severe shortage and possibly famine were impending. Clearly the Twelfth Five-Year Plan's goals for agriculture would not be attained, a severe setback for Gorbachev's perestroika efforts.
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An invaluable source of statistical data on the agro-industrial complex is the 1987 publication Narodnoe khoziaistvo SSSR za 70 let, compiled by the Soviet Union's State Committee for Statistics. USSR Situation and Outlook Report, published annually by the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, presents a concise overview of recent Soviet agricultural performance. D. Gale Johnson and Karen McConnell Brooks's Prospects for Soviet Agriculture in the 1980s examines Soviet agricultural efficiency in light of policy and natural and climatic factors. The Soviet Rural Economy, edited by Robert C. Stuart, presents several highly pertinent essays on Soviet agriculture, including Michael L. Wyzan's "The Kolkhoz and the Sovkhoz," Valentin Litvin's "Agro-Industrial Complexes," and Everett M. Jacobs's "Soviet Agricultural Management and Planning and the 1982 Administrative Reforms." Two other important anthologies are Agricultural Policies in the USSR and Eastern Europe, edited by Ronald A. Francisco, Betty A. Laird, and Roy D. Laird, and Soviet Agricultural and Peasant Affairs, edited by Roy D. Laird. Paul E. Lydolph's classic Geography of the USSR provides a comprehensive description of Soviet agricultural resources, including forestry and fishing. The evolution of current policy is traced by Karl-Eugen Waedekin in numerous Radio Liberty Research Bulletin reports, including "The Private Agricultural Sector in the 1980s," "What Is New about Brigades in Soviet Agriculture?" and "`Contract' and `Normless' Labor on Soviet Farms." Zhores A. Medvedev's Soviet Agriculture and Valentin Litvin's The Soviet Agro-Industrial Complex provide highly detailed descriptions of the organization and functioning of Soviet agriculture. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of May 1989
Soviet Union Table of Contents