25 april 2013

Government meeting

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon. Colleagues, let’s discuss several high-priority issues and start with the agro-industrial sector. Under the law On the Development of Agriculture, we have to examine a draft national report on implementing the state programme for the development of agriculture. This document sums up the results of our work last year, and in general, over the past five years. Moreover, the document shows how specific goals have been achieved and objectives accomplished. An expert commission, which included representatives of the scientific community, departmental associations and, of course, the national parliament, has prepared its findings.

The Government continues to focus on state support for the countryside. We had been implementing numerous projects over the past few years. Some projects proved to be very effective, and some were not as effective as we wanted them to be. But in any case, a positive trend has emerged. The countryside has started receiving private investment. Therefore jobs are being created, and equipment and technologies are also being received. Of course, we faced difficult seasons in 2010 and 2012, and this made it more difficult to achieve key parameters. Nevertheless, the average annual grain harvests, I repeat, the average harvests, stood at about 86 million tonnes. And average annual exports totaled about 18 million tonnes. Of course, this differs considerably from the situation in the 1990s and in the 2000s because national harvest volumes have changed.

Other crop harvests, including production of beetroots, rice, sunflower, corn and soy beans, also expanded rapidly. We started establishing large agricultural holding companies, which include fodder facilities and high-tech livestock-breeding farms, as well as processing and sales units. This is probably correct.

Under the federal targeted programme Social Development of the Countryside, about 100,000 families have received better housing in the past five years. I am particularly happy to mention the more than 50,000 young specialists who are very important for the future of the countryside.

Gas-pipeline construction also expanded in the countryside during the implementation of the relevant rural gas-delivery programme being implemented by Gazprom together with the regions.

Of course, we are moving ahead, and we are also facing our fair share of unresolved problems, including the financial stability of agricultural producers. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates total 2012 profitability rates at about 15%. At the same time, these profitability rates total 4.5% or about 5%, to be more exact, minus subsidies. The specific share of loss-making companies is almost 20%. Wages in the agro-industrial sector remain rather low, as compared to nationwide wages, and total about 15,000 roubles. We will have to accomplish all this and many other objectives under the new state programme in 2013-2020.

And, of course, Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation is another challenge. This is a reason why we are closely watching rural processes. This is why decisions to allocate additional funding are being made, even despite the rather complicated situation around forming the budget and slower economic growth.

Nonetheless, our accession to WTO will compel us not only to make managerial decisions but also to spend money. Today we’ve invited one of the governors from the agrarian areas to our meeting – Rostov Region Governor Vasily Golubev. He’ll say a few words. One more issue we’ll discuss today is how the development rates and the living standards depend on the effective performance of the authorities. Last year the Government endorsed criteria for assessing the performance of the regional authorities. They answered the main question: what have the regional authorities done independently to develop their economies and improve the social wellbeing of their people and what is the result of federal investments?

Analysts have rated the regions using the following key criteria –average life span, prevention of child abandonment, income growth, the unemployment rate, available housing, the commodity and services turnover of small companies, and private investment in basic assets. There are many yardsticks to judge the performance of the regions. Some of them are doing better than others. The average life span has approached 70 years and 36 regions have exceeded that. I’m referring not just to the North Caucasus where people traditionally live longer despite the modest conditions, but also the Stavropol Territory, the Rostov Region, Moscow and St Petersburg, to name a few.

The average national income was about 245,000 roubles a year per capita, which is a 4.2% increase over the previous year. At the same time, in the leading regions this figure is more than double that of the lower regions – 300,000 roubles versus less than 150,000 roubles, respectively.

There are also criteria on providing new housing. That varies in different regions as well and we’ll talk about that now. In any event, when the ratings are compiled, the key criterion is the opinion of the people. What matters most is whether they are satisfied with the performance of the regional authorities and the quality of the social services. We’ve invited Mr Fyodorov, the Governor of the Nenets Autonomous Area, to the meeting. This is a fairly small territory. He’ll also say a few words about this.

The third item on our agenda is very important, but we won’t discuss it in public. I’m referring to the amendments to the law on the federal budget for 2013 and the planning period of 2014 and 2015. As always, this is a complicated issue. That said we have saved some money by reducing allocations on internal debt maintenance. We must make the most of these funds. We must use them to support agriculture, in part, to reimburse livestock breeders for fodder purchases and some expenses on short-term loans (we’ve made a decision on this).

Our equity payments to Russian Railways amounts to 10 billion roubles and is aimed at developing railway traffic and infrastructure in the Moscow Region. There are many allocations on national defence and law enforcement and some projects on science, culture and sports. The Minister of Finance will report on this subject.

These are the key issues. Let’s start with the report on the state programme for the development of agriculture in 2008-2012. Let me recall that this is the first time we have carried out a state programme in rural areas. By and large, it has produced good results. Mr Fyodorov, go ahead please.

Nikolai Fyodorov (Minister of Agriculture): As you pointed out Mr Medvedev, the requirement for a national report is prescribed by the law on the development of agriculture. In this particular case, the report covers not only the previous year, but the entire period between 2008 and 2012, as the programme ended last year.

The report that has been prepared for the government members consists of two volumes and 281 pages. It is symbolic that the first indicative planning document in the agricultural sector went into effect in the difficult year of 2008, and played quite literally a historic role. Thanks in large part to the state programme, the agricultural sector, along with (I am sure that not every Government member will be able to say along which sector) the energy sector demonstrated growth during the financial crisis.

For the agricultural sector, the importance of the first state programme also lies in the fact that it provided a transition to a targeted planning method that ensures a correlation between the allocation of budget resources and the expected results based on the priorities set by the Government. During the five years of the programme's implementation, the agricultural sector received a total of 487 billion roubles from the federal budget, and an additional 243 billion roubles from regional budgets.

Technically, the funding of the state programme has been exceeded (I will address this later) by 18.5%. Government support to the sector has resulted in the influx of private investment, which by the end of 2012 totaled 1.8 trillion roubles. Each rouble of financial support provided by the Government has attracted over 5 roubles in private investment.

Loans and leasing instruments also proved to be quite effective during this period. As a result, the agricultural production rate has increased by about 17% over the five-year period, including 14.6% growth in crop production and 14.9% growth in livestock production. Thanks to the active work of some regional agencies, several Russian regions have reported record growth of agricultural production. Farming output in the Belgorod Region increased 50% above the target figure and almost doubled over the past five years.

Overall, agricultural production has been growing rapidly, although there have been some failures. The target for the proportion of Russian output in the overall volume of meat and meat products has been exceeded, the same as for the available resources of rural households.

However, we failed to reach other indicative targets, mostly because they were formulated back in 2007, when the situation was more favourable and allowed us to set more ambitious goals. However, as it is said in the Bible, fat years were succeeded by lean years, but the fat period was shorter than in the Bible and the lean period has lasted longer.

Dmitry Medvedev: Are you conspiring with each other? The Finance Minister has been talking about fat and lean years, and now you. I presume this is a shared view?

Nikolai Fyodorov: Life shows that there is truth in the Scripture, and yet…

Dmitry Medvedev: The Scripture always has it right, without a doubt. But the question is whether this maxim can be applied to the current economic situation. Well, we will see.

Nikolai Fyodorov: The conclusion that stems from the monitoring results is that the government programme has not been amended with regard for the financial and economic crisis or the 2009-2010 droughts, which you mentioned. And hence, one of the conclusions is that we should consider amending government programmes in the event of emergencies.

There have been more drought years recently. The grain harvest, which consisted of more than 108 million tonnes in 2008 and 94 million tonnes in 2011, plunged to 61 million in 2010 and was only 70.9 million tonnes in 2012. At the same time, grain production grew by 12.8% during the period of the government programme as compared with the previous five-year period (2003-2007), sugar beet production went up by 38.5%, sunflower seeds by 29% and soybeans by over 100%. The share of stock seeds among the total increased from 9.2% to 21.2%, which is above the target figure by nearly half.

However, we did not achieve the target for mineral fertilisers, having applied 2.55 million tonnes in 2012 instead of the planned 3 million. It is noteworthy, that the actual figure exceeded the target figure only in the first two years of the five-year period, when government support in this sphere reached 10 billion roubles. After that, allocations were slashed by nearly 50%.

The year 2012 was the third year of the planned five-year period, during which bad weather had a highly negative impact on agriculture. Droughts affected 16 regions in 2009, 43 in 2010 and 20 in 2012, while the agricultural insurance system that was in effect until 2012 did not allow for compensating farmers’ losses and mostly led to the use of shady and even criminal schemes. A new insurance system based on Federal Law No 260 came into effect last year, and there have been positive changes, although only 19% of the area sown with crops was insured in 2012. We expect the figure to grow this year. The first inspiring indicator is the area of insured winter crops, approximately 28%, which is considerably more than was insured last year.

Over the past five years, the breeding of cattle and poultry to be slaughtered …

Dmitry Medvedev: What did you say was the insured share of crop areas?

Nikolai Fyodorov: Twenty eight percent. Over the past fives years, the breeding of cattle and poultry to be slaughtered has grown by 33%, and it has been growing 2% to 5% faster than planned every year. Poultry and pig breeding has been growing the fastest. Milk production has been flat for the past few years at around 32 million tonnes, which means that we did not fulfil the plan and hence did not reach the target figure of the government programme for the share of Russian-made milk and dairy products. At the same time, we have been improving the pedigree stock of dairy cattle. The milk yield was nearly 5,000 kilograms per cow last year, which is nearly 1,200 kilograms more than in 2007. By the way, in the Soviet period, machine milking operators who reported such results were nominated for the title of Hero of Socialist Labour. Very good…

Dmitry Medvedev: We could do this, too.

Nikolai Fyodorov: Sure. The programmes for the development of family stock breeding farms and for supporting start-up farmers, which were launched last year, are proceeding at a fast pace. Over 3,000 individual farmers and nearly 800 family farms are already involved. Large modern agricultural holding companies have been growing rapidly, which largely accounts for the growth in the production of pork and poultry meat. These processes helped to create the foundation for increasing local agricultural production and reducing imports.

Have a look at Slide 12. You can see that in 2012 food safety, or the proportion of locally grown agricultural products in the overall amount of (food) resources, was 98.9% for grain, 95.5% for sugar, 74.6% for meat and meat products, and 79.6% for milk and dairy products. These are good figures. And we really had nothing like this in the Soviet period.

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, this is true. The only problem we now have concerns meat, as far as I can see…

Nikolai Fyodorov: Yes, we have not yet achieved…

Dmitry Medvedev: …cattle and milk.

Nikolai Fyodorov: …in accordance with the meat production schedule. We are a little behind in terms of dairy production.

Dmitry Medvedev: What about fish production? Are we in line with our targets?

Nikolai Fyodorov: Yes.

Dmitry Medvedev: All right.

Nikolai Fyodorov: Overall, our numbers are good.

Dmitry Medvedev: What about salt? 

Nikolai Fyodorov: Salt is a separate issue. In fact, we are still operating as part of the Soviet economic system, and Ukraine and Belarus account for a major portion of our imports. There are issues, and we are looking into them together with Mr Dvorkovich. We believe that we can fix them in the near future.

Dmitry Medvedev: Previously, the demand for salt, matches and sugar was used as an economic indicator. However, now…

Nikolai Fyodorov: Minister of Agriculture Ms Skvortsova mentioned during yesterday’s meeting of the Government Commission that we use too much salt and should cut down consumption.

Dmitry Medvedev: Ms Skvortsova just reduced her personal consumption of salt.

Nikolai Fyodorov: Well, this is a fairly complicated issue and we need to look into it thoroughly.

There’s another important issue. The programme for social development in rural areas was very effective even though we have released only 39% of the planned federal support over the past five years. One rouble from the federal budget was matched by 3.5 roubles from other sources, which is higher than the planned target of 40%.

The total amount of investment in rural areas over the course of the state programme amounted to about 188 billion roubles, and plans for potable water and gas supplies have been overfulfilled. However, we are still behind our plans in terms of new housing construction in rural areas. The new state programme for the sustainable development of rural areas provides for the priority allocation of resources because civil living and working conditions in rural areas, that is, access to transport, water, gas, modern healthcare and education, are a prerequisite for resolving all other problems faced by Russian villages, although now they have broadband Internet access and other things.

The main problems that give rise to a lot of negative trends in agriculture are related to low profitability. You have mentioned that profit margins often show a biased picture of what’s really happening in the industry. Farmers often overstate their performance numbers to have better chances of getting a loan. In 2008-2012, the volume index of investment in fixed assets stood at a low of 76.3%. Also, in 2008-2012, agriculture lost money for three out of five years without access to subsidies. The level of profitability is poor, but the new state programmes lead us to believe that we will be able to improve the situation and at least maintain the competitiveness of Russian agricultural producers.

Replacing obsolete agricultural equipment is another important issue. Over the course of the state programme’s implementation, the replacement ratio was 4.8% below the target with regard to tractors, and 5.2% with regard to combine harvesters. Energy supplies have also been below the planned figure, despite the acquisition of energy-intensive equipment and the introduction of resource-saving technology. Failure to achieve targets with regard to replacing agricultural equipment has been a major factor limiting the growth of labour productivity and leading to significant losses of future crops.

Colleagues, evil tongues say that Winston Churchill once said, and I quote: “I thought that I would die of old age, but now I realise that I’ll die of laughter because I learned that Russia is buying bread.” Today, thanks to the state programme...

Dmitry Medvedev: It’s unlikely that he ever said that, though.

Nikolai Fyodorov: ...it is safe to say that Russia is once again among the world’s food leaders and exporters. It is worth noting that in 2012 the export of agricultural products reached an all-time high of $16.6 billion. So far, grain has been our main export item with over 20 million tonnes exported last year. Of course, our goal is not to stimulate exports, but to encourage grain processing in Russia. This is what the new state programme is all about.

Russia has also achieved intensive growth in sunflower oil exports. In 2012, the exports almost tripled, reaching 1.4 million tonnes, which is an all-time high. Rice exports also increased by 2.2 times to 364,000 tonnes compared to 2011, which is an all-time high. Pardon me for sounding as though I’m bragging.

Dmitry Medvedev: No, no, please go ahead. You’ve just mentioned Winston Churchill who in reality died of old age and a fairly unhealthy lifestyle, so don’t be shy of talking about good things as well, including rice.

Nikolai Fyodorov: Colleagues, corn exports amounting to 2.2 million tonnes and poultry exports amounting to 25,200 tonnes are unprecedented in the history of agrarian Russia during the Soviet era.

Colleagues, the implementation of the state programme shows that Russia has the potential to fully provide itself with crops and to meet the domestic demand for meat products, and even export meat and meat products, primarily poultry and pork. Due to time constraints, I can’t discuss the new 2020 programme in detail, and there’s no need to, but I want to assure my distinguished colleagues that despite all the difficulties related to the weather and our WTO membership, Russian farmers are ready to compete and are optimistic about the future. I held a conference call today and our colleagues, not just the heads of agricultural businesses, but also regular workers, engaged in spring fieldwork and livestock production... Mr Medvedev, they were surprised to receive so much money for the sowing campaign for the first time this year. Previously, they received support in the form of various difficult-to-quantify in-kind benefits. Using money instead is a welcome change that we should promote and make part of our daily work. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. That’s quite a story about how we implement the programme. To add, I can say that even though we have failed to achieve a number of targets, I believe that this is one of the most successful state programmes overall over the past 20-plus years. This programme is a good reason to say that Russian villages are finally on the rise and not dying, as doomsayers used to claim in the early 1990s.

This work should continue. Of course, we still face many difficulties, including those associated with our accession to the WTO. Indeed, the support is coming in the form of the money, not benefits. For some, it is good news and the right thing to do because money is all about responsibility. Others are unaccustomed to this, and that is exactly why we introduced a transition period for mild changes, during which agricultural producers can adapt to them at a comfortable pace. That is why we are also allocating additional resources.

Are there any questions for the minister? Go ahead, please.

Andrei Belousov (Minister of Economic Development): We certainly support both volumes of the report, and we have studied them carefully. However, the last revision has two new paragraphs that I’d like to comment on and maybe ask a few questions.

The first paragraph in question is on Page 146 in the first volume. The first question concerns the proposal to create financing tools to cover seasonal risks through making reserves and the possible subsequent redistribution of the state programme’s costs in the amount of up to 15%. This proposal wasn’t there in the first revision. If the issue concerns a possible increase in spending under the state programme of up to 15% so as to hedge seasonal risks, then we certainly support this. If this concerns withholding these 15% from the state programme during the spring fieldwork and making these funds available later in the year when the producers won’t really need them and will have to come up with ways to quickly spend them, then I believe we should look into this again.

Second, there is a proposal concerning state support in the form of subsidising up to 35% -- and I want to emphasise this -- of the actual cost of the purchased agricultural equipment and machinery. Further expanding on the issue mentioned by Mr Fyodorov, I’d like to say that it can be anything but the actual cost. It can be the estimated cost or the standard cost, or whatever, because if we subsidise up to 35% of the actual cost, then we'll just create a strong motivation to establish higher prices for agricultural machinery. Hardly anyone will be pleased about this, especially those who will use this equipment. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much. Let me give you an opportunity to express your opinion a bit later. We’ve invited Mr Golubev, Governor of the Rostov Region, a large agrarian region. Mr Golubev, could you tell us how the programme did in your region. And do you have any proposals?

Vasily Golubev: Mr Medvedev, we’ve done well with this programme аnd we’re already working on the next stage. I’d like to say a few words on the results that we’ve achieved and the problems that we have. Today, the region’s agro-industrial complex amounts to 4.5% of the country’s agricultural production. Our contribution to the GRP is over 13%. Over the past year, we have completed this five-year programme. More than 26.5 billion budget roubles were spent in this regard. One-third of these funds came from the regional budget.

We’re paying special attention to agriculture, which is one of our main industries. Over the past three years, we’ve increased support from the regional budget almost four-fold. If we compare our current allocations with those in 2007 when there was a certain upsurge, we’ve increased our support for agriculture 2.5 times. Our rural residents appreciate this support because it has produced results. The production of meat, milk and eggs in 2012 increased considerably compared to 2007. We have reached per capita self-sufficiency in grain, sunflower and eggs. Our results correspond to the targets of the Russian Food Security Doctrine. Now one of our primary goals is to increase livestock production and to attract investment for this purpose.

In the past few years, weather has affected the performance of agriculture in our region. Yet compared with 2007, our farmers have increased the yield of agricultural crops by using more mineral fertiliser and elite seeds and keeping soil fertile.

Agrarians spent budget funds on the purchase of combines and tractors and this programme is still implemented in our region. We are subsidising these purchases by 20% because we’ve seen the results. First, the amount of equipment with an expired service life has declined, which is very important for farmers. Agricultural companies have improved their financial and economic performance. We’ve collected more taxes and the average salary of our agricultural companies has increased 2.2 times during the programme’s implementation. Investment projects have created about 8,000 jobs in the Rostov Region. With the account of subsidies, the profit margin of production has amounted to 15.3%.

However, this is not enough for the effective performance and modernisation of rural areas. Farms have a heavy debt load. The debt load per hectare of cropland exceeds the profit from the same area and farms experience an acute shortage of cash reserves, which does not always allow them to buy on time enough seeds, fodder, fertiliser, fuels and lubricants, and spare parts.

We aren’t satisfied with the rates of attracting investment. We have sufficient investment opportunities – we’re working on them all of the time – to form new companies. This year, we’ve adopted several new dairy and meat cattle-breeding projects, but investors complain that they don’t always find prompt support from our banks. Regrettably, the issue of loans takes a lot of time. Apart from poor weather, epizootic problems have also been impeding the agro-industrial complex’s development in our region, just as in some other territories in the last few years.

Russia’s accession to the WTO is also exerting some influence on these problems and the competitiveness of our produce. Agrarians in our region much appreciate the Government’s measures on supporting the agro-industrial complex. In turn, we’ve held consultations with them in connection with spring fieldwork. We still suggest discussing the prolongation of loans for investment projects to construct and reconstruct dairy breeding to 15 years and to increase co-financing from the federal budget. We need these steps to develop rural areas. We must supply them with gas and water, build paved roads and improve housing conditions there. There are about 4,000 families on the region’s waiting list for better housing.

We also believe that it is necessary to facilitate exports of ready-made produce rather than raw materials. It is essential to increase support for the processing industry with this aim in mind. This is a topical issue for the Rostov Region. We don’t process many vegetable and fruit produce and we need fine grain processing. Not so long ago, we started building a large processing enterprise in our region.

In conclusion, I’d like to propose approving the national report on the programme’s implementation. We’re confident that the federal support envisaged by the new state programme and the measures that we are taking in our region will help us make a substantial contribution to advancing national food security. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Golubev. Please, colleagues, do you want to comment or have anything to add to Mr Belousov’s question? Go ahead, please.

Arkady Dvorkovich: Thank you. Colleagues, first – we are at the point of finalising the results of the 2008–2012 programme. We have learned some important lessons. We have mechanisms that are effective and have produced concrete results, in particular with regard to increasing investment in the production of some types of farm products, which has consequently contributed to a domestic market supply with sufficient volumes of quality food at acceptable prices.

Meanwhile, over the last year, the Government has introduced necessary changes based on these lessons, based on these results. These changes are linked to Russia’s accession to the WTO. Currently we are focused not so much on an analysis of the past, but on the effective implementation of new mechanisms. These mechanisms include those two instruments that Mr Belousov mentioned. Regarding the reserves for seasonal risks, I support the position that has been voiced – there is nothing that we can reserve based on the state programme funding. 

If we agree on the level that we expect will be fixed this year, taking into account growth in future years, then it will be possible to reserve this amount for possible risks, and either use it or not use it depending on the situation in a specific year, on weather conditions and external circumstances. But, I repeat, there is no 15% reserve within the current level fixed in the budget.  

Regarding farm equipment and machinery, it is not the effective value, but a standard cost that is determined based on the market situation in the previous period (this is more or less normal) and specification costs that have to do with sales promotion on the market. In the coming days we will eventually agree on this year and submit for your approval the draft resolution, a file with rules that will be effective this year. This will practically mean 30-35% of the effective value, but we calculate this percentage not on effective value, but on a normative calculation.

The draft report was examined by Government Commission on Agriculture and Fisheries. We agreed that the section containing proposals will be adjusted for the future; and we have some days before May 15 for final approval of this report. Currently this adjustment is being conducted. Taking into account today’s discussion, I ask you to approve the report on the whole; and these adjustments will be introduced in the coming days so that the Government can approve this national project. And additional allocations, which will hopefully be approved as part of one of the next issues on the agenda, show that the agro-industrial complex remains one of Government’s priorities, unconditional priorities, and this is positive. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Fyodorov wishes to add something. Please, let's have Mr Siluanov speak first, and then Mr Fyodorov.

Anton Siluanov (Minister of Finance): Mr Medvedev, colleagues! We believe that we should reserve funds specifically for the programme – and we have discussed this with the Ministry of Agriculture. If the allocations for the programme increase (only in this case will we reserve funds), we will again create the expectation of growing financial support for the programme. We should probably not do this under  the current conditions. Nevertheless I believe that it is not dangerous to reserve some of the expenses of the current programme. It often happens in our country, and Mr Fyodorov will confirm this, that considerable funds are redistributed within the programme in the course of a year. There is no danger in this. Therefore it is possible to reserve part of resources that can be redistributed during the programme's implementation and during the budget implementation. Mr Medvedev, we have also created an anti-crisis budget of 200 billion roubles and have looked into it: where we saw a possibility to redistribute, we redistributed, and we took something to the administrator under the budget that was initially approved. I believe that the idea to reserve is correct because we have droughts, floods and sowing campaigns – there are nuances throughout the course of a year. And this is a very proper mechanism for the more efficient use of the programme funds, but this should be done within the programme. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Mr Fyodorov, over to you.

Nikolai Fyodorov: It is clear that the [allowed] support for the agricultural sector at the level up to $9 billion has been agreed upon in talks with the WTO. These talks took 17 years, and given this figure, I think Mr Siluanov’s optimism is not sufficiently justified with regard to a possibility to find any additional reserves (the Government gave us only half of this amount). Of course I support Mr Dvorkovich’s and Mr Belousov’s arguments on reserves. Mr Dvorkovich has answered for all points, and we need a more flexible wording than just “up to 35%.” Regarding the speech of the Rostov Region Governor, I want to say that I have visited this region twice. This is an agrarian region, as you said, Mr Medvedev, it is a powerful, technologically developed and promising region. Therefore we work with full understanding, and we will make effort to attract  attention to this region and transform it into an engine of development of the modern agro-industrial complex.   

It is a pleasure to work with governors who truly see the agro-industrial complex as a priority. I am glad that the number of such governors is increasing. Thank you. 

Dmitry Medvedev: One of these former governors is a minister now. Good. Thank you very much.

I think that we can conclude the discussion of the results of the programme performance, because it has produced very positive results. Most importantly, we should not lose sight of what we have achieved over the last five years, and we should advance on the basis of a new state programme. 

Agreed? The decision has been taken based on the discussion. Next.


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