AKKOR Letter to Iowa Farmers - January 2016
Happy New Year 2016, dear Iowa friends!
The New Year started with a 10-day national holiday that included the New Year celebrations and Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7). But most farmers cannot afford to take so much time off, so it was work-work for most of our farmers. The central AKKOR office was closed for the duration of the holidays but when we got back to our desks it was the time to roll up our sleeves again. January is the month when we get ready for our Annual AKKOR Congress (Annual Meeting) which will be held this year on February 10-12 in Moscow. It will be our 27-th Annual Congress since AKKOR came into being in 1989. We expect about 800 participants from 68 regions of Russia to attend this year’s Congress.
What we’ve been doing lately was polling our branch offices in order to determine the most burning issues for each region, learn about the farmers’ challenges and ideas for further growth. So far, we have received information from 36 regional offices that represent thousands of private farmers. The consensus has been that despite the challenges that Russian economy is experiencing these days, the farming sector did pretty well in 2015. Production numbers have increased in all sectors of farming, including crop and meat production, animal herds and poultry also showed statistical increases.
However, there are also some roadblocks and disappointments as well. Among painful issues for the farmers remains access to credit and its availability. This is especially true of small business owners and family farmers. It didn’t get easier to get a credit line or a loan from a bank but the level of federal subsidies also went down. Land issue still remains a big problem. Like in the past years it is still very difficult for farmers to expand their business by either buying or leasing farm land.
2015 has also seen a decline in selling agricultural products in some parts of the country. Everybody agreed that it cost more to produce the same amount of produce in 2015 while sale prices remained at about the same level as a year before. It is obvious that with the current inflation rate, the farmers are losing money because of the increased production costs. The downward tendencies continued in reduced access to new machinery and equipment, spare parts, fertilizers and fuel. Interest in investing in farming remains low. But farmers are stubborn and hardworking people. They never run away from challenges but try to find solutions to do better. These and others will be issues in the center of discussions at the 27-th Annual AKKOR Congress.
We’ll let you know in our next letter how our Congress would go and about the major decisions that will be made in the farming sector.
We also wanted to share with you another piece of information about a meeting that recently took place between the Chairman of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation and the farming community. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Public Chamber initiative to support vibrant and results oriented NGOs in order to disseminate the positive experience gained by those NGOs across the country.
One of the initiatives that AKKOR can be a part of is called “OUR COMMUNITY”. It was emphasized that people who live in smaller communities know their needs and strengths better than anybody, so it seems like a logical thing to do to use that NGOs potential to compete for grants to improve the lives of the citizens in their communities, to preserve and further develop national and cultural traditions.
With our very best wishes,
Maria Anisimova (AKKOR, Moscow office)
PS. Public Chamber of the Russian Federation consist of 168 members who represent three equal rights groups: 40 members confirmed by the President of Russia; 85 – are representatives of Regional Public Chambers, and 43 represent Russian NGOs.
Members of the Public Chamber are elected every three years. Their main purpose is to serve as a bridge between citizens and governmental bodies at the national, regional and local levels to represent and defend interests of the citizens of Russia
Pictured are: A. Brechazov, Chairman of the Public Chamber, V. Plotnikov, AKKOR President, A. Shipulin, Public Chamber member and a farmer from Krasnodar Territory, A. Rodnin, Chairman of the Rostov branch of AKKOR, T. Agapova, - AKKOR Executive Director