2003 June 22 Sunday
British Farmers Signing Leases To Farm Russian Land

British farmers are heading to Russia to farm fertile land that is now sitting idle.

More than 30 British farmers have signed up for leases on Russian land in a move to tap the potential of Russian agriculture and escape the doldrums of British farming.

Recent agricultural reforms and an improving outlook for Russian farming have encouraged certain British farmers to consider the potential of investing in Russian agriculture.

Over half of Russia's arable land is idle and the country has to import basic foodstuffs. The British farmers will find a large domestic Russian market for the crops they grow in Russia.

A large amount of Russian farmland is sitting idle due to a lack of ability of local farmers to raise the needed capital to work it.

British farmers entangled in the European Union's red tape are aiming to break free by moving to Russia to cultivate land being offered to foreigners in a fertile region.

Almost a million acres of prime arable land are lying idle in the Penza region, 400 miles south-east of Moscow, because local farmers cannot raise sufficient money to buy the machinery, fertiliser and seeds needed to work it.

The ability of foreign farmers to enter into lease agreements to farm Russian land was made possible by a land reform law change passed in June 2002.

After six hours of half-hearted debate, the State Duma approved a bill in the crucial second reading allowing Russians to buy and sell farmland and restricting foreigners to 49-year leases. Liberals slammed the limitation on foreigners. The only protest from the Communists, who oppose the sale of farmland altogether, came from a crowd of about 200 people rallying outside the Duma building. Most lawmakers appeared to be more interested in following two World Cup soccer games that were being played, and the Duma hall was all but empty during the debate.

Update: Dutch dairy farmers are being wooed to move to Iowa.

There are nearly 1,000 people per square mile in the Netherlands. In Iowa there are 50. Dutch dairy farmers -- also burdened by strict government regulations on land use -- are looking for alternatives, and Iowa's Butler, Mitchell, and Poweshiek counties are looking to take advantage. Along with two advocacy groups, Iowa Extension and the Dutch National Extension, the counties are trying to facilitate a wave of agricultural emigration under the Iowa New Farm Family Project.

The Dutch National Extension Service estimates around 7,000 farmers will resettle in the US over the next decade. Iowa wants and needs many of them. Butler County, for example, had 176 farms with dairy operations in 1982. Fifteen years later that number was down to 44.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 22 03:47 PM  Economics Political


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