Huge expanses of once fertile soil overgrown with Hogweed, and people who once worked there run in the city
Leningrad oblast is traditionally in the shadow of St. Petersburg, but once fed vegetables, especially cucumbers and potatoes, the whole Leningrad. Now the vast territory of the region, its agricultural land, overgrown with all kinds of stuff type Hogweed. These lands will be extremely difficult to restore to former necessities. And whether the authorities have such a desire?
Evgeny Kolesnikov, Leningrad oblast
To begin with, as in the Leningrad region was the privatization of land in the early to mid-90s. Briefly. There is a collective farm. Of all his employees-employees who have made the so-called shareholders. Then a particularly enterprising fellow land shares were bought for literally the price of a bottle of vodka. And here arose a monopoly – a legal entity or private – in different. Most importantly, the impression that this was done on the principle – “let it be”. Well, or a huge estate on this earth begins to build. Really Soviet time a big part of salzachtal in the Leningrad region, and there grew anything, no one does. Now the situation has become critical – such land is necessary regularly “to Refine”, that is, to plough up, and scored the pin. Many agricultural lands of the Leningrad region may be lost forever. Now it is a dead land, it is difficult to plodorodie.
All the earth – not the peasants?
How not to treat the Soviet Union, but it was an agricultural country. Accordingly has developed a system for the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. In Leningrad region there were numerous collective and state farms, which were given cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, beets, onions, so that was enough for the whole Leningrad. Well, in your region, of course. If then said that the St. Petersburg store will be potatoes from Egypt, no one would have believed that laughter, and only. About dairy products do not say, but now is not about them.
Last week the correspondent of “NO” visited several places where there were “village forming” the collective in p. George (Tosno district of Leningrad region), doctor Tube (Gatchina district of the Leningrad region), settlement Siversky and p. Druzhnosele the same area. Managed to find a local who still remember the past greatness. They are waving a glass of vodka, almost immediately cry: “we Have here in St George has grown all the available crops, equipment was all equipped. All heavy equipment was. Was and visitors from veterinarians and machine operators, but mostly worked local, they were all busy. The village was full, with the club, as expected. Well, the cow was, of course. The problems began in 1992. All the farmers were invited to become shareholders in the collective farm land. Well, we’re naive idiots who are not frightened. No shit not understand this. New owner, major shareholder, Peter, was quick to sell off assets – tractors, first and foremost. The layoffs started, and the shares of our – said, sell me, I know better how to use the land. Well, sold who for a penny, who is behind the bottle. In 1996 the farm of nothing left. And now the village is almost nothing left – people can only drink, steal and faster to die.”
Former farmland cool, even now not built up there is overgrown dunno what field, Russian field, as sung.
This year, unfortunately, died on Valentine Pashinsky, the General Director of Association “Lenprodmash”, the Chairman obkoma trade Union of workers of the agroindustrial complex of Leningrad region, who felt deeply the loss of farmland in the region. He painfully told the correspondent of “NO”: “There’s no secret that the Soviet legacy in agriculture almost lost, this applies not only in Leningrad region. The land is empty and only strong-willed decisions of the state can reverse the situation. Unfortunately, apart from loss of farms do not allow people to work the land. All land to the peasants – the slogan has not lost relevance. Not too favorable to farmers and banks loans absolutely unreal. It turned out that the collective farms closed, and private farmers did not help to unwind, to get to his feet. And most of all in this situation suffers from the ground it just loses its function and is transformed from a land in the territory.”
According to the office of the Federal service for state registration, cadastre and cartography across the Leningrad region, the area of arable land in the Leningrad region is 359,7 thousand hectares. According to Petrostat, in 2019 acreage at the end of spring sowing in the farms of all categories totaled 237,6 thousand hectares, of 100.4 % compared to 2018 – 236,6 ha. Not used celosamente – 123,1 thousand hectares (34,22% of the arable land in the region or 1.46% of the total area of the Leningrad region, which is 8 390 800 ha).
In the village Tube all the same in principle. Was a powerful farm. He died in 1994. Local that is not drunk, go to work in the Siversky village, but it is for women, services; or Peter, men, really there, someone that can. The village itself looks depressing, this is not news to the Russian heartland. As for the former farmland, they are wildly overgrown with Hogweed. It is extremely vile plant – grow inordinately tall and fast up to two meters in height, and even poisonous. Touching it burned, and the wound requires medical attention. In the USSR, went to a legend that the seeds of Hogweed scored to spite the Americans, well as the Colorado potato beetle.
Anyway, in the Tube with him, one no longer fights the cow parsnip now is the main culture of the local fields. Resident Tube Catherine tells how it was before and as it is now: “the Land here was used for large plantations of strawberry, cucumber raised in greenhouses such big, long one hundred meters each, potatoes – is certainly well and oats for the cattle. As went the privatization of land, so we took all the work. The men were drunk, women were hung. One anything could have physically gone to St. Petersburg. I was out of options. People went missing in the village. Than live? Yes pensions only. Something else growing on plots of their own. I have enough, but the granddaughter had gone into town, rents a room, works as a waitress. Says: “Never look back”. I understand her, of course.”
Yes, along with lost collective agricultural land will be lost and people. Land – there is money, there is no land – livelihood in the village remains.
To take, and to withdraw
But the authorities of the Leningrad region? For a start, tell a rather interesting story of 2015. Then the local government is required to auction 906 ha of agricultural land, because the beneficiary of the owner-company is …virgin offshore. Land in the Gatchina district, and in particular its owner and being on her farm and breeding plant “Forest”, – the billionaire Zakhar Smushkin. The justification for the claim that, in fact, trained officials, and the regional Prosecutor’s office, that “Forest” is more than 50% of the enterprise with foreign capital. This is contrary to the law on circulation of Russian agricultural land. But the court of Arbitration, curiously, the claim of the government of the Leningrad region refused. Yes, it happens sometimes that in the confrontation between business and government, the court takes the side of the first. Especially if the businessman is not secretionary farmer and polished billionaire.
And in August this year the Ministry of agriculture did an interesting proposal – to withdraw unused agricultural land upon detection of abandoned sites. Meanwhile, for the removal of the Rosselkhoznadzor has to fix the violations within a three year period after the detection. And too much decorative in this monitoring. The Ministry of agriculture now proposes to “remove sections that are not used within three years before the moment of the violation” – and bdit is the case in the dynamics of the project will be the Rosselkhoznadzor. According to our records, this is quite a revolutionary proposal lobbied even in 2017, with some part time of the government of the Leningrad region. While it is not accepted, but as it seems, all to go.
The correspondent of “NO” talked a few years ago with the Vice-Governor of Leningrad region Sergey Yakhnyuk, who was in charge, in particular, the agrarian complex of the region. Education profile – Leningrad agricultural Institute, specialty “agronomy”. Even then he was very actively proposed to deprive private owners of agricultural land, which came to them in disrepair. Simply because if the ground run on some time, you will never recover. Virgin soil upturned fail. Officials have even introduced the term “inefficient owner of the land.” Now yakhnyuk, Deputy of the state Duma, member of Committee on agrarian issues, as far as we know, is also involved in the proposal of the Ministry of agriculture.
There are ardent opponents to the potential law. Well-known in the Leningrad region businessman Ivan Sergienko, told our correspondent that he sees this potential future law “cannibalization”: “How to get the land to a particular owner – it doesn’t matter already, most importantly, he has all legal rights to a specific area. We now want to violate the right to private property? I’m part of the former agricultural land used for the construction of guest houses, mini-hotel complex, this was for hunters. I have it a profitable business. And that is to take it all? On any such basis?! And unless the state really is to plow, to sow the land? Do not believe! Resell and then any people who are there castles and palaces will be built”.
Igor Boyko, the owner of Gatchina district of Leningrad region, the farmer:
The agricultural land in the region is really dying. We have here in the district is processed just a piece is just two “Rostselmash”. You can, of course, the state to say – take the earth, people, free, only treat. So nobody will take. Urbanization etched spirit of the peasantry. Look how far a hectare happened – he does not need anyone. Free no need! With the ground must be able to work, and there are few who can. And love it must is not giving a rose to plant, there is hard daily work.
Sergey Egorov, a lawyer specializing including land law:
– The authorities must act strictly within the law and not to intimidate the owners of the land the taking. Not going to talk about agriculture, then I’m not the expert. But with regard to land rights, it is clear – the land was received by the current owners and with full compliance with Russian legislation. “Predatory privatization” is a grading term, not a legal one. You could say that, but such is the law. I know that now some of the former owners of agricultural land are concerned about the plans of the authorities of the Leningrad region on “dispossession” and are preparing lawsuits to the court.
25 thousand hectares of the former lands is scheduled to return to agriculture by 2024
Also “New news” asked two questions to representatives of the Committee of agriculture of the government of the Leningrad region: as the regional authorities are struggling with the fact that the Soviet agricultural land overgrown, deteriorating?; the interaction of government with the private owners of agricultural land, where they lose their function?
At our request the government of the region gave the following response, reproduced in full: “the Program to engage in agricultural unused for the intended purpose of land, implemented in Leningrad region provides for a wide range of activities in the framework of the provision of state support:
1). Subsidies for reimbursement of expenses for the development of reclamation of agricultural land, including kulturtechnik of work (work to return overgrown land), capital repairs and reconstruction of reclamation systems in order to ensure the stability of agricultural production and soil fertility in a changing climate and natural anomalies, improve the production capacity of reclaimed lands and an effective use of natural resources.
The amount of work kulturtechnik events since the inception of the program in 2014 amounted to 13,756 thousand ha (2014 – 1387 hectares, 2015 – 2245 hectares, 2016 – 2810 hectares, 2017 – 2171 hectares, 2018 – 3143 hectares, 2019 – 2,000 ha), on the reconstruction of reclamation systems in 6 years will be about 8.5 thousand ha (2014 – 282 hectares, 2015 – 540 hectares, 2016 – 761 hectares, 2017 – 1106 hectares, 2018 – 1112 hectares, 2019 – 4749 hectares).
2). Subsidies to the budgets of municipalities and agricultural producers in Leningrad region in order to conduct the cadastral works for formation of land plots from structure of lands of agricultural purpose.
In 2019, the 8 budgets of municipalities for the formulation of 10.8 thousand hectares of land cadastral registration were granted subsidies from the regional budget of the Leningrad region in the amount of 18.3 million. For 2020, the final selection of municipalities. For the cadastral registration of almost 4 hectares (3 961) from the regional budget it is planned to allocate 13.2 million rubles of subsidies. Taking into account the forecast of development of agriculture for the next six years, until 2024, the Leningrad region plans involvement of retired agricultural land with total area of 25 thousand hectares.
To ensure compliance with the users requirements of the land legislation, control over the use of land for the intended purpose, local governments in the region are implementing municipal land control by interacting in this matter with the Office of Rosselkhoznadzor for St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Pskov regions, supervising target use of lands of agricultural purpose”.
Well, as you can see, the regional authorities allocate a considerable amount of money in order to make agricultural land a comeback. However, while these efforts are a drop in the ocean, still about one third of agricultural land in Leningrad region is not used as intended. In absolute numbers – 123,1 thousand hectares – a colossal figure. But what is even worse – together with fertile soil inevitably lost, and people being able to work on it.