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Soviet grain production and grain imports.

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Soviet cogitations: 62
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Aug 2012, 23:54
Pioneer
Post 05 Feb 2013, 01:11
A common criticism of the USSR is that collectivization was a failure which did not result in an increase in grain production. Apparently, Russia had to import grain for the first time in history. What is the truth of this matter?
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 05 Feb 2013, 01:29
The USSR started importing grain from the US, Canada and so on only during Khruschov's tenure and that continued until 1991.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 05 Feb 2013, 03:12
I think Loz is right. Even during the 1933 famine in Ukraine the USSR was still exporting. During the war the USSR was also exporting to Germany until 1941.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
Soviet cogitations: 88
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Pioneer
Post 05 Feb 2013, 13:11
In agriculture, it is proven that peasant, family farms are more productive than large farms.

USSR and Cuba invested heavily in larger farms, called Cooperativas, in order to use larger implements and machines. But China has decided to redistribute land among peasants. Today, China exports food when Cuba imports food, despite her more favourable climate and minor population.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 05 Feb 2013, 18:10
The countries with the most productive agr. sectors ( for example the US, Canada... ) rely almost exclusively on large,mechanized ( but often family-run ) farms.
And you do have many peasant farms on Cuba. Besides the Cubans lack machinery and oil, fertilizers, pesticides and everything else.
Soviet cogitations: 88
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Pioneer
Post 05 Feb 2013, 20:42
Loz wrote:
The countries with the most productive agr. sectors ( for example the US, Canada... ) rely almost exclusively on large,mechanized ( but often family-run ) farms.
And you do have many peasant farms on Cuba. Besides the Cubans lack machinery and oil, fertilizers, pesticides and everything else.


But, some of the most productive agriculture of World (China and South America) rely in peasant farms. Remember that communism don't forbid fortune and luxury, communism forbids a man to exploit another man.

A big mechanized family-rum farm like the Canadian ones is a peasant farm because his owner don't exploit nobody. His owner aren't a kulak (capitalist farmer), because kulaks had non-labor income (like buying production from peasants to sell it with big profits) and hired labor (a man exploiting other).
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 05 Feb 2013, 21:01
Well an average American farm is like 100 hectares, which is quite big. Even the big Russian kulaks couldn't dream of such huge estates. Thans to mechanization it takes just a few people to work it, but still the farmer must hire additional labor during the most intensive periods of harvest and so on.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Pioneer
Post 05 Feb 2013, 22:51
The problem with kulaks wasn't their wealth, luxury or immense estates. The problem was that kulaks exploited poor peasants, making the peasants even poorer and their lifes even worse.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Aug 2009, 02:30
Pioneer
Post 17 Feb 2013, 19:24
Besides cuba has a lower food production because its soil is poorer than continental soil, island soil is bad for agriculture
We must march ever forward, creating new ritches and liberating mankind from its chains
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 18 Feb 2013, 09:53
To add my two cents to this discussion:

1. The USSR started importing grain only as the result of a decision by the party to dramatically increase the population's meat and poultry consumption. This required vast quantities of feed grain, and this for the most part is what the USSR imported from Canada, the US and Argentina. This is not an issue of collective farms vs. private farming, nor of the efficiency of farming between different eras. Ordinary people began to demand more than the normally autarkic system could supply, and so the USSR bought grain from abroad.

2. With regard to export during the 1933 famine, it is important to note that exports were curtailed in that year as a result of the battle with starvation which the central government launched once it was informed of what was going on in the Ukraine (but also in other regions). Unfortunately, at that time, the grain exports of the USSR were the only thing the country had to finance its industrialization, and anyone who criticizes Stalin for his callousness in this regard (I know you're not OP-B) has to understand that there simply wasn't any other way to industrialize and prepare for war.

3. The family farms in the United States and Canada are exploitative in the sense that the majority of them hire vast quantities of seasonal immigrant labourers, who work long hours and for low pay. In Canada these seasonal labourers are selected to come over from poor countries like Haiti and the DR, to work a few months while living in barracks, and then to be forcibly sent home. Unfortunately for many crops, the conception that family members and maybe one or two helpers can run the whole operation is simply untrue.

4. Cuba and the DPRK have problems with farming because up until 20 years ago, they operated modern, highly mechanized farms using the latest fertilizer, pesticide and other farm technology. The DPRK is even known for sending food aid to the south in the 1970s and 1980s. When the USSR collapsed and the oil, machine goods, parts and other essential components simply disappeared, these countries had to start virtually from scratch to rebuild their farming sectors.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Oct 2012, 06:32
Pioneer
Post 23 Mar 2013, 19:38
soviet78 wrote:
To add my two cents to this discussion:

1. The USSR started importing grain only as the result of a decision by the party to dramatically increase the population's meat and poultry consumption. This required vast quantities of feed grain, and this for the most part is what the USSR imported from Canada, the US and Argentina. This is not an issue of collective farms vs. private farming, nor of the efficiency of farming between different eras. Ordinary people began to demand more than the normally autarkic system could supply, and so the USSR bought grain from abroad.

2. With regard to export during the 1933 famine, it is important to note that exports were curtailed in that year as a result of the battle with starvation which the central government launched once it was informed of what was going on in the Ukraine (but also in other regions). Unfortunately, at that time, the grain exports of the USSR were the only thing the country had to finance its industrialization, and anyone who criticizes Stalin for his callousness in this regard (I know you're not OP-B) has to understand that there simply wasn't any other way to industrialize and prepare for war.

3. The family farms in the United States and Canada are exploitative in the sense that the majority of them hire vast quantities of seasonal immigrant labourers, who work long hours and for low pay. In Canada these seasonal labourers are selected to come over from poor countries like Haiti and the DR, to work a few months while living in barracks, and then to be forcibly sent home. Unfortunately for many crops, the conception that family members and maybe one or two helpers can run the whole operation is simply untrue.

4. Cuba and the DPRK have problems with farming because up until 20 years ago, they operated modern, highly mechanized farms using the latest fertilizer, pesticide and other farm technology. The DPRK is even known for sending food aid to the south in the 1970s and 1980s. When the USSR collapsed and the oil, machine goods, parts and other essential components simply disappeared, these countries had to start virtually from scratch to rebuild their farming sectors.


I agree with pretty much everything you said, but I want to emphasize your first point a little more. Meat consumption takes up a huge amount of resources compared to low meat consumption. It takes at least 10x more resources to feed grain to animals and eat them instead of eating grain and vegetables directly. Meat consumption grew rapidly in the 70's in the Soviet Union, and had almost reached the level of the U.S. by this time. The Soviet Union actually had fairly large increases in agricultural production during this time, but meat consumption grew even faster. In the 1980's, the price of meat stayed the same as in the early 60's, but wages grew significantly during this time. This fueled the demand for more meat consumption. I think Soviet agriculture was actually fairly good for what it had to work with. I don't think it's necessarily bad that a higher percentage of a population works in agriculture. There's really no use for a lot of the workers displaced from agriculture in the U.S. A lot of them were moved to worthless service jobs, so it looked like they were doing something.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 23 Mar 2013, 19:55
Thanks for deepening the analysis, oldjar07. I agree with you on every point you've made. I think the main problem of Soviet agriculture overall was transport and storage related wastage. Upwards of 1/4 of all production went to waste because of the lack of transport or storage infrastructure and its poor maintenance. As with the work efficiency campaigns of the early 1980s, it would take much less effort to 'tighten the screws' here than to build anew.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 24 Mar 2013, 15:52
If these critics are not aware of the difference between food grain and feed grain, and the USSR's export of the former/import of the latter, they are just ignorant.

If they are aware of such differences and still criticize the USSR for importing garin, they are ridiculous. No knowledgeable agro-economist would judge the success of a country's agricultural sector by its autarkic self-sufficiency. Aside from the handful of countries with agricultural bounty, many successful, developed societies have to import their food to sustain their populations and high standards of living, and it does not automatically indicate the failure of that country's agricultural sector. The same applies to the USSR, which, as soviet78 and others point out, imported to fulfill meat consumption targets, while still exporting its own bounty.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Oct 2012, 06:32
Pioneer
Post 30 Mar 2013, 08:30
Marshal Konev wrote:
If these critics are not aware of the difference between food grain and feed grain, and the USSR's export of the former/import of the latter, they are just ignorant.

If they are aware of such differences and still criticize the USSR for importing garin, they are ridiculous. No knowledgeable agro-economist would judge the success of a country's agricultural sector by its autarkic self-sufficiency. Aside from the handful of countries with agricultural bounty, many successful, developed societies have to import their food to sustain their populations and high standards of living, and it does not automatically indicate the failure of that country's agricultural sector. The same applies to the USSR, which, as soviet78 and others point out, imported to fulfill meat consumption targets, while still exporting its own bounty.

Why were meat consumption targets set higher than the Soviet Union could provide for itself so it didn't have to import?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 31 Mar 2013, 06:05
Well, I may not have a researched answer for this, but here is my intuition behind these consumption targets. Soviet authorities may have been responding to surveys that suggested greater unmet demand for meat. Rather than allow black markets to fill that demand at the risk of compromising health standards, it would have been only natural to just import. The federal budget and trade balance of the USSR could easily accommodate such imports without a strain on the system anyway. In the long run, perhaps there was an intent to boost domestic productivity to end importation, but we'll never know.
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"History is a set of lies agreed upon."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 29 May 2013, 15:59
Some figures:

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Per capita food production according to FAO between 1952 and 1963.

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http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/ap652f/ap652f.pdf

USSR grain imports (blue) and exports (red) in millions of tons.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 30 May 2013, 13:59
I wouldn't trust that source much, for example the Народное хозяйство СССР ( which is the official statistical yearbook of the Soviet Union ) shows different data.

Import of grains in the year 1960 in thousands of tonnes:

ИМПОРТ ВАЖНЕЙШИХ ТОВАРОВ В СССР
...
Крупа—тыс. т. 106 / 40 / 501 / 689 / 501 ( 1913/'58/'56/'59/'60)


So that's already 0,5 mil. tonnes and not 0,3 as you source says.

The export data however seems correct.
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Soviet cogitations: 2293
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 30 May 2013, 23:44
That's from the FAO which, I guess, used Soviet official figures. Rice isn't included, so it's possible that they imported a little more. But that doesn't make much difference, does it?
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Soviet cogitations: 2293
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 01 Jun 2013, 22:55
A great map on Soviet agriculture.

Image
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
Soviet cogitations: 54
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Nov 2013, 03:30
Unperson
Post 01 Mar 2014, 02:08
Such alleged shortages were not caused by collectivization but was caused rather by the Germans when they blocked the routes Ukrainians used to transport food and grains to other parts of the Soviet Union. World War 2 was the direct cause of such alleged shortages and not collectivization. American historians were known to be devious slanderers of the Soviet Union.
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