Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sweeping Agricultural Reforms by Gorbachev Predicted

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sweeping Agricultural Reforms by Gorbachev Predicted

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (UPI) - Former Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland predicts the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, will implement agricultural reforms that will turn the Soviet Union into a grain exporter within a decade.

Experts on Soviet agriculture tend to disagree with Bergland's prediction, but they view the issue as a topic worth mulling and discussing.

""The majority school of thought would not agree with Bergland, but there are people who talk about that potential,'' said Cathyrn Zeimetz, an Agriculture Department analyst.

Gorbachev, on his rapid rise to the top Soviet post, was political overseer of centralized and sluggish Soviet agriculture, which has performed consistently poorly since 1979.

Bergland said that experience makes Gorbachev well informed about agriculture. As political overseer, he did not directly run Soviet farming. Berglafd views the officials who manage Soviet agriculture as hard line and resistent to change.

Bergland traveled to the Soviet Union on an official mission when he was President Carter's agriculture secretary and has met Gorbachev. He predicted the Soviet leader will modernize farming, patterned after successful Hungarian agriculture, which is decentralized and gives farmers pricu incentives to produce.

""He's a very smart guy for openers,'' Bergland said. ""This guy really knows the Western world.''

Bergland also predicted that Gorbachev, within five years, will promote joint ventures with Western agribusiness firms to build modern plants to make fuller utilization of technological inputs suchas hybrid seeds and farm machinery.

""In 10 years, Russia will be a surplus grain producer,'' Bdrgland told the Newspaper Farm Editors of America recently. ""The Russians have the ability to produce at least as much grain as they need.''

Bergland made predictions about Soviet agriculture as he discussed the future of American farmers, who are suffering from low prices, the strong dollar that has hurt exports, high interesp rates and falling land values. …

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