IN a significant address on August 8, 1953, Soviet Premier Georgi M. Malenkov gave the planners of the Soviet economy the task of achieving within two or three years an abundance of food for the population and of raw material for industry. The gap between present production and "agricultural abundance" in the Soviet Union is so tremendous that literal attainment of this goal within such a short period seems extremely unlikely. Nevertheless Soviet agricultural output could be increased substantially, given favorable economic conditions, improved farm management and increased supplies to agriculture of such materials as machinery, fertilizer, technical help, building materials, and insecticides and pesticides. In an attempt to achieve the grand goal announced by Malenkov the party and the government have promulgated two great series of sweeping but contrasted decrees.[i]

The first set of decrees began to be issued in September 1953. Their aim was to increase production of meat, vegetables, fruits and industrial crops on existing farmland, partly by raising the prices paid.

The second set, embodied particularly in the decree of March 2, 1954, attempted to expand radically the area under cultivation, in order to achieve a cheap and quick increase in grain production. Within the two years 1954 and 1955, 32,000,000 acres of idle and virgin land were to be plowed up and put into crops. This ambitious plan was revised upward on August 17, 1954, to the fantastic figure of 70,000,000 additional acres to be cultivated within three years, 1954-1956. Thus within the brief compass of three years the Soviet Union aspires to add new cultivated land equal to the total harvested acreage of wheat in the United States. This would amount to a 20 percent expansion in the total Soviet sown area. Naturally one wonders whether the Soviet Union contains that much good land not currently cropped but utilizable so suddenly.

Before considering in turn the two sets of decrees, we need to review briefly past Soviet efforts to increase agricultural production and to consider the physical conditions affecting Soviet farming and its limits.


In the past Soviet agricultural production has fallen far short of announced plans. Soviet agriculture has stagnated in comparison with Soviet heavy industry, which has increased its production tenfold during the last quarter century, and also in comparison with American farm output which has increased 40 percent in the last 15 years. The estimated per capita output of edible animal products (such as meat and milk) in the Soviet Union has declined by about 30 percent in the last 25 years. The grain has fluctuated but is now at about the per capita level of 1928. Industrialized countries usually have better diets than agrarian countries, but the Soviet Union has a poorer diet than the underdeveloped nonindustrial countries of eastern and southern Europe.

Faced by persisting food shortages over the last quarter century, the Soviet Government has undertaken various stringent measures to increase agricultural production, or rather, more particularly, to increase the amount of food available to the urban industrial workers. Pressures for increased Soviet food production have been and will continue to be intense. The annual population growth is 3,000,000 (1.5 percent). The demand for improved diets is especially strong among the growing urban population, who hope for more meat, vegetables and fruit--a diet that makes heavier demands on agricultural resources than the traditional Russian grain.

The first great measure was the collectivization of agriculture. This transformation increased the proportion of agricultural output diverted to urban consumers but apparently did not raise total production. The initial impact of this revolutionary change, and its apparent main purpose, was to insure larger deliveries of grain to the state. By eliminating individual peasant farms and by giving a monopoly of draft power and agricultural machinery to its own machinery and tractor stations (M.T.S.), the government was able to force larger compulsory grain deliveries to the state; thus it secured the food supplies considered necessary to make possible a rapid increase in the number of urban laborers, and thus industrialization. The total agricultural production, however, dropped catastrophically during the early years of collectivization; the residual food supply remaining for the farmers fell below starvation levels in some areas in some years. The rural population suffered bitterly as a result of collectivization and it is not certain whether the rural standards of living have yet risen to the pre-collectivization level of 1928.

The mechanization of agriculture in the Soviet Union as in other countries has increased net farm output available for human food. The most important aspect of mechanization is the replacement of the horse by the tractor. But according to W. S. and E. S. Woytinsky, the Soviet Union lags behind such countries as Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Ireland and Italy in number of tractors per acre of arable land.[ii] Nevertheless, much land formerly needed to feed draft horses has become available for the production of food.

During the first Five Year Plan (1928-1932) an attempt was made to raise agricultural production by increasing the amount of land under cultivation, particularly by expanding farmland farther into the dry steppes. The program suffered serious failures at that time and was largely abandoned in 1932.

The agricultural goals of the second, third and fourth Five Year Plans were not achieved. The second Five Year Plan (1933-1937) called for very large and unattainable increases in yields per acre. Nevertheless, an appearance of fulfillment was maintained by changing the method of reporting crop yields from actual harvests to an inflated "biological yield." Favorable weather conditions in 1937, the last year of the second Five Year Plan, resulted in above average yields in that year and in a rash of optimism about the possibilities for increasing yields much further in the third Five Year Plan (1938-1942). Grain yields per acre, for example, were to be increased 30 percent over the planned 1937 output. World War II broke into this program and instead of an increase there was a precipitous decline in yields and in acreage of cropped land. The postwar fourth Five Year Plan (1946-1950) had more modest goals than the interrupted third Five Year Plan, but production seems to have fallen short of even these goals by 15 percent or more. The agricultural goals of the fifth Five Year Plan (1951-1955) also seem unlikely to be realized.

Drought has ever plagued Soviet agriculture with low yields and recurring crop failures. On October 23, 1948, "Stalin's Plan for the Transformation of Nature" was publicized. It projected the planting of gigantic shelter belts in the drought-ridden lower and middle Volga and nearby areas; these constitute most of the semi-arid agricultural land in the European part of the Soviet Union. Early publicists glowingly hinted that the climatic problem of the area might thereby be solved. Recent accounts, however, speak modestly of small windbreaks and of strips to help conserve soil on steep slopes.

In 1950 a series of grandiose irrigation projects was announced. A member of the Academy of Sciences boldly prophesied that within six or seven years the Soviet Union would get enough food from irrigated lands to feed 100,000,000 people. Even the actual plans, though of far smaller dimensions, called for nearly doubling the irrigated acreage by adding 15,000,000 acres of newly irrigated land. Much of this land was already in cultivation. But even these plans, involving stupendous capital investments, are no longer intact. The Turkmen Canal project clearly has been abandoned. Irrigation projects along the Volga and in the Ukraine have been disappointing and the plans appear to have been curtailed.

On the basis of past failures to fulfill plans for increasing agricultural production, one is permitted a generous measure of skepticism about the likelihood of attaining the present goals.


Attempts to increase Soviet agricultural production face obstinate physical obstacles. Much of the country simply is too cold or too dry for cultivation. Even within the agricultural heart, major areas suffer from low and variable yields because of inadequate and uncertain rainfall.

A comparison of the Soviet Union with North America may help clarify the picture. Both have about the same area (8,500,000 square miles) and both have about the same population (200,000,000). In each there is an agricultural heart. In North America this heart stretches from the Atlantic seaboard westward to approximately the 100th meridian and northward to the southern fringe of Canada. The agricultural core of the Soviet Union, the Fertile Triangle, has corners at Leningrad on the Baltic Sea, Odessa on the Black Sea, and in Western Siberia somewhat east of the Urals. Both agricultural centers are bordered on the north by vast expanses too cool for farming and on the interior by dry regions too arid for non-irrigated crops.

But this heart of agricultural production lies much further north in the Soviet Union. The southern boundary lies at about the fortieth parallel of north latitude in the western part of the country and near the fiftieth parallel in the eastern part. Thus the entire eastern portion of the Soviet Union lies north of the northern limit of the continental United States (the forty-ninth parallel) and only a small segment in the west lies as far south as any section of the United States. The coniferous forests, tundra and icecaps that cover much of Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland find their counterpart in the taiga (coniferous forest) and the treeless Arctic tundra of the Soviet Union. Some 5,500,000 square miles, or nearly two-thirds of the Soviet Union, lie in these bleak regions that offer scant hope for normal agriculture.

Whereas North America extends in a north-south direction, the Soviet Union attains its greatest dimension along an east-west line. It extends from 20 degrees east longitude eastward for 170 degrees (to 170 degrees west longitude). This is the same distance that separates the western tip of Alaska from the coast of Norway. This east-west orientation means that much of the Soviet Union is thousands of miles from its western margin and thus from the sea, a moderating influence on temperature and a source of moisture. As a result, the eastern part of the Soviet Union is the most continental area on the face of the globe and is characterized by an extreme of temperatures between summer and winter, and by low rainfall. Furthermore, extremes both of cold and of aridity are accompanied by great variability from year to year with risks of unseasonable frosts or periodic droughts. East of the Caspian Sea the uncultivated dry steppes and arid deserts of Soviet Central Asia cover about 1,000,000 square miles.

Thus, more than three-fourths of the Soviet Union is condemned by coldness or dryness (often in combination with other factors such as poorness of soil or drainage) to offer little promise for crop production. Less than half the remaining land, climatically suited to cultivation, is considered arable. Thus the total arable land constitutes only 10 percent of the Soviet Union (compared with 4 percent for Canada and 25 percent for the U.S.).

The amount of arable land in the Soviet Union is about 10 percent less than in North America (550,000,000 acres compared with 610,000,000). Not all is planted in crops, particularly in any one year. In 1952 the area of sown crops was 386,000,000 acres, somewhat less than North America (440,000,000 acres) but a little more than the United States alone (355,000,000 acres).

Expanding the agricultural area either to the cool north or to the dry southeast is difficult. The northern frontier is one of cool summers, a short and irregular growing season with occasional frosts in very late spring and very early autumn, of infertile podsol soils, of widespread areas of poor drainage, and in places of permafrost (permanently frozen subsoil). The climate is cold and raw and crop failures are frequent. Grain-drying kilns or machinery on collective farms near the northern edge of present farming indicate that the seasons often are too short for the grain to ripen or that the harvest time is too moist for the grain to dry properly. Permafrost covers nearly half the Soviet Union. The soils are mostly podsols, low in plant foods, low in colloids, poor in structure and highly acidic. Heavy manuring and liming are necessary to improve the soil; such expenditures are justifiable only if other conditions are reasonably favorable. The southeastern frontier is arid. Here is a combination of low total rainfall, extremely variable from year to year, and occasional desiccating winds, called sukhovey; these may destroy a crop in a single day.

Even in the main agricultural areas crop yields are lower than in the United States. In the Soviet Union the yields of wheat have been estimated to average about 12 bushels per acre compared with 17 in the United States, and the yields of corn 17 bushels per acre compared with nearly 40 in the United States. Climatic, technological, economic and cultural factors--some permanent, some probably temporary--all play a rôle in low Soviet yields. The most important long-range factor is doubtless climate.

The Fertile Triangle, which includes most of the farmland of the Soviet Union, is to be compared to the spring wheat belt of the Dakotas and the Prairie Provinces of Canada, where agricultural yields per acre are relatively low and irregular from year to year, where the variety of crops that can be grown is not great, and where measures for increasing intensity of agriculture through fertilization or more labor are less rewarding than in areas of higher rainfall or longer growing season. The Soviet Union does not contain any substantial agricultural areas comparable with the humid eastern half of the United States; it lacks the American Corn Belt and the American Cotton Belt, both of which are favored by a precious combination of relatively long growing season and adequate rainfall. Odessa at the warm southern margin of the Fertile Triangle lies in the latitude of Duluth, Minnesota. Its temperatures, however, are more like those of Omaha, Nebraska. But its annual rainfall is about ten inches less. Because of a short growing season and relatively low precipitation, Soviet agriculture, like that of corresponding parts of the American prairies, is given mostly to grains. As a result of lower yields per acre for the staple grain crops, the lesser development of intensive fruit and vegetable crops, and the low production and low productivity of livestock, total Soviet agricultural production is considerably less than that of the United States.

The Soviet Union may also be compared with North America in the historical development of its expanding agricultural frontier, except that the new lands lay not to the west but to the east.

The ultimate physical limits have not been reached in Soviet agriculture, either in yields per acre, or in areas on which crops can be grown. But the economic limits of agriculture both on the cool and dry margins doubtless have been attained in many areas and have been overstepped in some. Much of the land now cultivated in the Soviet Union is as poor as the abandoned farmland of New England, the Appalachians, or the Dust Bowl of the United States.[iii] Further expansion, though physically possible, typically entails low productivity per unit of manpower or capital investment.


The 1953 decrees aimed to raise agricultural production of certain specific products (excluding grain) by the following measures: increased prices for livestock, potatoes, vegetables and some industrial crops; more liberal provisions with respect to the private plots of collective farmers; more farm machinery; more fertilizer; more construction materials for farm buildings; a change in the date of the livestock census; increased livestock feed; more agricultural specialists for farms or machine and tractor stations; seasonal prices for vegetables and fruits; and better harvesting.

An increase in average prices to be paid by the government for livestock and vegetables was probably the most important measure announced in September 1953. A major, and probably decisive, factor in the sickly state of Soviet agriculture in the last quarter century has been the lack of financial or other adequate incentives for farmers. The extremely low prices have had the same effect of discouraging efforts for increased agricultural out-put in the Soviet Union as they had during the depression in the United States. That this is so was frankly recognized by Soviet leaders. The justification given was that the government could not develop heavy industry and agriculture simultaneously and that it was more important to stimulate manufacturing. A high proportion of the agricultural output has been acquired by the government on compulsory deliveries at extremely low prices fixed by the state; these products have then been sold at relatively high prices through retail outlets. The difference between state procurement and sale prices represented a staggering tax, through which the government acquired the colossal sums needed to pay the capital costs of the construction of heavy industry.

The only branch of Soviet agriculture to exhibit spectacular growth during the Soviet period had been subsidized by high state prices. In industrial crops, such as cotton, the government paid high prices in order to encourage increased production. Workers on farms producing industrial crops had average incomes three and a half times as high as those on livestock farms. The idea of making farm work financially worthwhile, successful in industrial crops, was to be applied to certain other branches of agriculture beginning in September 1953.

Figures on the low income of farmers on livestock farms were revealed by Khrushchev. He reported that livestock farm receipts averaged only five rubles per workday unit for the entire Soviet Union. At the official rate of exchange five rubles amounts to $1.25, but in actual purchasing power it is more nearly 35 cents (at seven cents per ruble). Thirty-five cents is not much pay for a day's work! A laborer on a livestock farm must work three days to purchase a dozen eggs at Moscow prices. One could scarcely quarrel with Khrushchev's conclusion: "Present procurement and purchase prices for animal husbandry products are an inadequate incentive to the material self-interest of the collective farms and farmers in developing animal husbandry . . ."

Because of low prices and other factors the number of livestock declined in the 25-year period, 1928-1953. The number of cattle (on January 1 for comparable areas) fell from 66,800,000 to 56,600,000, of cows from 33,200,000 to 24,300,000, and of sheep and goats from 114,600,000 to 109,900,000. The number of hogs increased from 27,700,000 to 28,500,000. Because the farmers lacked a substantial stake in livestock production, much of the stock was poorly cared for. Thus in 1952 collective farms obtained significantly fewer calves, fewer lambs and fewer suckling pigs per unit of female breeding stock than had been obtained in 1940. The harvesting of hay degenerated. Milk production figures for collective farms have not averaged above 2,400 pounds per cow for a decade; in the United States the average milk production per cow is more than twice as high.

In analyzing Soviet farm prices one needs to distinguish sharply between procurement prices, paid for obligatory deliveries to the state, and purchase prices paid for products which the farms are permitted to sell after they have met their obligatory deliveries. Procurement prices generally are extremely low. Many farms have difficulty, however, meeting even the obligatory deliveries; they therefore have little surplus that can be sold at the somewhat higher purchase prices. In September 1953 it was announced that procurement prices on compulsory deliveries to the state were to be increased sharply--5.5 times for livestock and poultry (to approximately ten cents a pound for cattle and sheep), two times for butter and milk, 2.5 times for potatoes (to about 20 cents a bushel for late potatoes), and 25-40 percent for vegetables. These were the plans of September 1953, but on March 6, 1954, it was reported that "procurement prices of meat, milk, wool, potatoes and vegetables . . . have been raised . . . on the average by 11 percent." A lowering of the obligatory delivery norms of the farms was planned; this would permit more of the total production to be sold at the higher prices either for state purchases or for sales on collective farmers' markets. The purchase prices, like procurement prices, were to be increased, but much less: 30 percent for meat (to 30 cents a pound for cattle and sheep) and 50 percent for milk.

A second important measure concerned the small private plots of the collective farmers. These plots, dear to the hearts of the farmers but objectionable to party political leaders, suffered punitive taxation by the government in the postwar period. The Party Resolution of September 7, 1953, observed, "Raising the quotas for [compulsory low-price] delivery of products from the private plots, and defects in our policy of taxing the collective farmers' private holdings have led to a reduction in the number of cows, pigs, and sheep privately owned by the collective farmer." Finally in September 1953 back taxes were cancelled and on the average current taxes were to be halved. The norms for obligatory deliveries to the state from these holdings were reduced. The collective farmers were encouraged to acquire private livestock by the curious device of giving tax exemption for a year to collective farmers who did not own a cow on June 15, 1953. Collective farmers were to have access to pastures. But if the collective farmers failed to devote the required number of days of work to the collective farm, their taxes were to be increased 50 percent. Furthermore, on August 31, 1954, it was announced that the minimum number of days of such work was being raised on all farms.[iv] Such an increase in obligatory collective farm work may more than offset the concessions on the individual plots of the collective farmers.

One interesting measure to stimulate production was a change in the system of obligatory deliveries. Formerly obligatory deliveries were higher for more productive farms, lower for less productive ones. When increased efficiency resulted in higher production, the state gobbled up the increase. Now to encourage increased production obligatory deliveries are to be fixed on a per acre basis; the more productive farms will be able to sell more of their produce at the higher purchase prices but poor farms will be hard pressed. The stake of the farmers in increased production is thus enhanced. The change is analogous to the substitution of a fixed property tax for an income tax.

Agriculture is to be provided with more machinery, especially tractors. A more generous supply of a wide variety of harvesting devices is also planned. The machine and tractor stations are to be reorganized with a permanent personnel of 1,250,000 rather than with seasonal personnel. Engineers and mechanics are to be sent out from the cities; those who transfer to the M.T.S. are to retain the same wages as in their former jobs in the city. More engineering students are to be channeled into rural areas. It was reported that 23,000 engineers and other technicians were shifted from industry and other activities to work in agriculture last year. Perhaps most important of all, greater attention is to be devoted to keeping the machinery in good repair; poor maintenance has been a notable Soviet weakness in the past.

Plans call for a sharp increase in the production and utilization of fertilizer. In 1953, 6,000,000 tons were supplied agriculture. (This is less than a third the amount used in the United States.) These are relatively long-range plans, which if actually carried out will make a major contribution to increased production. The immediate effect is likely to be slight, however, because of the time lag needed for the erection of the necessary chemical plants.

One of the retarding factors in agriculture has been the lack of lumber or other building materials for farm dwellings, for livestock shelters, and for other farm structures. Such materials were diverted as much as possible to industry. The critical condition of agriculture has resulted in orders to government agencies to increase the flow of such materials to the farms. This is particularly important for livestock shelters, since many livestock have been suffering from inadequate protection in the cold Russian winters.

By changing the date of the livestock census from January 1 to October 1, it is hoped to reduce the demands for feed for livestock that must be kept until the census date in order to meet government delivery requirements. Livestock ready for marketing at the end of the summer can now be marketed then.

Because some collective and state farms were not providing adequate feed for livestock during the winter it was decreed that "all collective and state farm livestock to be kept through the winter will be fully provided with feed and shelter." A checkup is to be made in the fall on feed and shelter; livestock not adequately provided for are to be delivered to the state as an advance on the obligatory deliveries of the following year. Various measures are proposed to increase the feed available for livestock. Obviously the amount of livestock that can be maintained depends directly on the amount of feed. More hay is to be planted; more silage crops, root crops and feed melons grown; more concentrated grain feed made available. Yet simultaneous complaints are made of the past increase of fodder crops at the expense of grain. The state is to turn over concentrated feed to livestock farms in proportion to their meat deliveries.

It was planned that agricultural specialists embroiled in paper work were to be pushed into the rural areas. Of the 350,000 agricultural specialists in agricultural agencies, 100,000 were to be forced to move to machine and tractor stations; in March 1954, it was reported that this number had been sent. Furthermore, training schools are to be increased and more students diverted to M.T.S. or farms. On August 14, 1954, a decree changed the price system for potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Prices were made to vary slightly with the season in order to stimulate the production of off-season produce and to encourage the storing of produce for delivery during the off-season. Much emphasis is put on improvement of harvesting procedures. The decree calls for more care; losses and spoilage have doubtless been high. A realistic touch is added by the directive to make extensive use of horse-drawn harvesting machines for hay and to organize hand mowing of grasses in forests and swampy areas. The emphasis on harvesting losses is an expression of the wide disparity between the inflated biological yield figures and actual harvests.

Two features need to be noted about these decrees. In the first place, grains, which account for 70 percent of all Soviet crop acreage, were ignored; all these decrees aimed at increasing the production of the more expensive auxiliary foods rather than the basic element in the diet. In the second place some of these measures, though fundamental to any long-range improvement in agriculture, would have relatively little immediate effect.


By 1954 the party recognized that "the satisfaction of the public's . . . demand for . . . food products depends above all upon growth in grain production. The present grain production level . . . does not meet the growing needs. . . . The quantity of grain remaining on the collective farms after the fulfillment of their obligations to the state does not cover all the needs of the collective farms" (decree of March 2, 1954). Increased grain production is needed both for human food and livestock feed. Grain not only dominates agriculture, it is also a major source of Soviet revenue. The government has been loath to give farmers a better price for grain because this would cut deeply into state income, far more deeply than higher prices for minor farm products.

One of the most characteristic features of Soviet planning has been its attraction for the spectacular to the neglect of equally important but more gradual measures. The 1954 plans called for the solving of the grain problem by a gigantic drive into the semi-arid margins of agriculture, similar to the tragedy-packed American Dust Bowl. The planners hope that great quantities of grain can be obtained here quickly and cheaply. The five main areas of the drive are western Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Urals, the Volga region and the North Caucasus. These agricultural frontiers are held to promise a cheap but dramatic upsurge in cereal production. There is a touch of desperation in the urgent call for a substantial immediate jump in grain output at little cost.

The decree of March 2, 1954, called for the planting of 32,000,000 acres of virgin and idle land within two years (1954-55) and the obtaining therefrom of harvests of 600,000,000 to 700,000,000 bushels of grain, of which 500,000,000 bushels should be available for commercial sale.[v] (The total wheat production of the United States runs about 1 billion bushels a year.) The plans called for obtaining average yields of about 20 bushels per acre; expectations of such yields on any continuing basis are unrealistic for semi-arid lands. The very gigantism of the plans and the yield expectations augur poorly for their attainment.

Various devices were suggested to help in the achievement of this program. These lands were to receive 120,000 tractors in 1954 (in terms of 15 horsepower units). At least 100,000 volunteer machine operators were to be supplied by the Young Communist League. Experienced workers sent to the new lands were to get a bonus of three months' salary from their previous place of employment, plus cost of moving to the new land. A bonus of 15 percent was to be added to salaries during the years 1954 and 1955. Most of the workers will have to come from elsewhere since many of these areas are not farmed at present. Provisions will have to be made for water supply, for shelters, for transport of food, machinery and other supplies into the areas, for transport of the grain from the area, and for storage of grain. Yet capital expenditures are to be kept to a minimum. For each 100 rubles' worth of grain delivered for state purchases from these new farmlands, collective farms are to be permitted to buy at regular retail prices up to 50 rubles' worth of trucks, building materials, and other industrial and household goods, but only if they meet goals both for acreage and for yields!

The report of August 17, 1954, indicated that 150,000 skilled workers had been busy bringing new land into cultivation during 1954, that the plan had been over-fulfilled by the plowing (not planting) of 33,000,000 acres, and that the goal was to be raised to about 70,000,000 acres for the three-year period ending in 1956.

As though there were a certain skepticism about the long-range efficacy of the great drive for increased acreage, the decree of March 2, 1954, also mentioned the need for increasing yields of grain in the existing farm areas with the casual comment "increasing the yield [per acre] of grain crops . . . remains the chief means of increasing grain production." For increasing yields the traditional methods were proposed: increased fertilization, liming of the soils (in some areas), better seeds, better farming methods, better crop rotations, better use of machinery, reduced losses to pests and diseases, and changing the tax to a per acre basis. But none of the decrees in the fall of 1953 or the spring of 1954 made any substantial contribution toward improving the miserable financial condition of the great majority of the farmers, those engaged in grain production. The decree of June 27, 1954, inconspicuously notes that "beginning with the 1954 harvest, the present norms of compulsory deliveries of grain . . . crops will be lowered," but there is no indication of how much. Apparently the very low procurement prices for these compulsory deliveries of grain are to remain the same.


It is too early to appraise specific results of the intensive campaign to increase agricultural output, especially since production figures have not been released. Past failures to meet plans, difficult physical conditions, and the grandiose nature of present plans all suggest that production will fall considerably short of hopes. The efforts to raise the yields of crops and the productivity of livestock hold the greatest promise over the long run. Favorable financial concessions have been made to producers of some farm products; similar concessions may need to be extended to grain farmers if a really notable increase in total agricultural output is to be achieved. The campaign to plow up new land is a gamble to obtain a rapid increase in grain output at low cost. The planned three-year expansion in planted acreage probably will not be achieved, but if achieved, almost certainly will not be permanently maintained nor produce the yields expected. Ultimately, the Soviet Union is likely to follow the same pattern as the United States, which in spite of a declining crop acreage during the last 20 years has achieved unprecedented increases in production by favorable prices and incentives and by concentrating productive effort on the better lands.

[i] Texts of the various speeches, reports and decrees were published in Pravda and Izvestia. English translations are given in The Current Digest of the Soviet Press published by the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies, from which most quotations in this paper have been made.

[ii] "World Population and Production, Trends and Outlook," by W. S. and E. S. Woytinsky. New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1953, p. 516-517.

[iii] "How Strong Is Russia? A Geographic Appraisal," by George B. Cressey. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1954, p. 26.

[iv] N. Nazartsev, Selskoe Khoziaistvo, August 31, 1954, p. 2. Condensed text in English in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, October 13, 1954, p. 9.

[v] Another series of decrees, not treated in this paper, laid down ambitious plans for increasing cotton production in Soviet Central Asia by expanding the amount of irrigated land: by 1,500,000 acres in the Uzbek Republic, by 280,000 acres in the Turkmen Republic, and by 395,000 acres in the Tadzhik Republic. Extensive resettlement is also projected for the lands for which irrigation is planned.

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  • CHAUNCY D. HARRIS, Professor of Geography at the University of Chicago; editor of "The Economic Geography of the U.S.S.R." and author of a number of scholarly works
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