The one-year extension of the special economic measures prohibiting the import into the Russian Federation of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foods from the United States, the EU and several other countries is fully justified. It serves the interests of developing local agribusiness and the objectives set for import replacement.

Agricultural production is very inertial; few industry sectors have the ability to quickly achieve effective production capacity. In most cases, it takes at least one year to go into production and five to seven years to make a return. Although modern technology has accelerated the process, we know that you cannot grow a garden in just six months; a wait of at least three years is needed. Thus, the West’s “principle of reciprocity” does not benefit our country. No one can force Russia to renew “anti-sanctions” for six months in proportion to the sanctions vis-à-vis Russia. Our country’s food independence and the interests of domestic producers and the population are paramount. They cannot be harmed for fear of breaking the virtual rules of international etiquette. Rules which, incidentally, Western countries often interpret in a wholly discretionary manner.

In this context, it is absolutely correct to give domestic business the clear signal that the borders are closed to imports in all seriousness and for a long time. Domestic producers must feel able to boldly expand, borrow and build distribution chains without fear of Polish apples and Lithuanian cheeses reappearing on the domestic market within three to twelve months. For this reason the special economic measures must be in place for at least three years. Their term should not be based on speculation regarding decisions by the United States or Europe. We should go our own way; the actions of the West should be the background to rather than the basic impetus for action.

Importantly, in addition to measures restricting imports over the past year, the Government has significantly expanded support for domestic agriculture. Around 2 trillion roubles must be allocated for the industry over the next 5 years. Key areas for support should be the meat and dairy industries. Moreover, there needs to be an emphasis on breeding and the increased use of domestic animal species. There needs to be a departure from the import of breeding livestock. The second strategic emphasis should be on stimulating vegetable production. Greenhouse production, being the most effective option in the difficult climatic conditions which extend over a large part of Russia’s territory, should be prioritised.