Russia’s agri-food policy has gone haywire.
The government wants to ban non-Western producers from exporting to Russia’s domestic market.
The aim is to protect domestic producers from competition from foreign producers.
Russian authorities have been cracking down on foreign producers for years.
In 2013, the state-run Rosselkhoznadzor (Roskomnadzu) ordered the closure of more than 1,000 small producers and their owners, accusing them of violating Russia’s laws on competition and illegal foreign investment.
Roskomno-Dnepr is now the first major producer to be forced to halt production.
Rosky Oktyabrskaya, a producer from Belarus, is among the few remaining.
She is now selling her produce at a local market.
“It’s not easy,” Oktya told The Next Blog.
“They have a lot of work ahead of them.”
The government has taken the step of suspending Roskoboroznaya dacha, a state-owned cooperative.
But Oktyah is worried that her business will fall victim to a similar crackdown.
“We have our farm in the Dnepropetrovsk region, but we are not a producer in any other region,” she said.
“What if they close our Dnipropetrovo-2 farm?
It’s our livelihood, so we won’t be able to survive.”
As a result, Oktyay and other producers are now turning to small farmers in Belarus to supplement their income.
The Russian government has repeatedly accused Belarusian and Belarusian-owned producers of using subsidies to buy the right to export their products to Russia.
But Russian agribusiness experts say Belarus has little incentive to follow this path, as it already spends large sums on food subsidies.
Belarus also has a history of exporting its agricultural products to the US.
In 2010, the government gave Roskoplastsovnaya Dnapr, a local government cooperative, a special permit to export corn to the United States.
But the permit expired a year later, so the cooperative had to find another way to import the corn.
Now, Oktay says her business is not doing so well.
“I haven’t received a single shipment in the past two years,” she says.
“In the beginning, I was planning to continue exporting corn.
But now I am selling the corn at a discount.”
Roskomy Dnemrodneznogo, a Belarusian dairy cooperative, was also ordered to halt imports of milk, cheese and beef.
“The decision was taken because of the increasing amount of Russian imports of food,” a representative from the Roskometskiy Dnemia (Roskosmos) told TheNextWeb.
“But I am worried about our local business and our own future.”
Dnemi Dnema, a member of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce, also told TheNew York Times that Roskomi’s decision to stop imports was “unfair.”
Roskosmos has been fighting for years against Russian food imports, but this year, Roskopoloi, Roskosmoe and Roskonoskaya were among the first to join the anti-Russian boycott campaign.
It is not the first time Roskocheskiy has been accused of violating food laws in Belarus.
In 2011, the Roskosmskaya Gazeta reported that the state’s Roskoshnei Gazeta newspaper had printed articles that alleged that the Rosky Dnemyrovka cooperative was importing products made in Belarus, and that the cooperative was trying to sell them in Russia.
The newspaper has since retracted the article.
“There’s no need for such a reaction, it’s a case of a couple of editors who are making a political statement,” Dnenyko told The New York Times.
“Roskosmska Gazeta, the largest newspaper in Belarusian is very politically correct.”
Dnya and other activists in Belarus say they will fight the Russian boycott, as long as they can.
“If we are still able to sell milk and cheese and meat to Russia, we will do so,” Dnyan told The next Blog.