12 APRIL 1940, Page 2

The Soviet Government and the Farmers

Agriculture, which after all is the basic industry in Soviet Russia, has never ceased to be the thorn in the flesh of the _Russian Communist system. In another effort to extract from the collective farms larger supplies of grain and vegetables for the State the Government has issued a new decree altering the basis of the farmers' enforced contribu- tions. Hitherto the tax has been levied pro rata on the sown area of each farm, but henceforward the contribution will be fixed, in relation to the total area of arable land, whether it was planned to be sown or not. Under this scheme the farmer theoretically will have no choice but to produce the amount of grain, vegetables, fodder and hay required by the State over and above what he may require for himself. The Government declares its intention of providing tractors and other machinery for economic cultivation on a large scale, and pressure is being brought to bear on the leaders of collective farmers to get better results. Pravda, the orri of the Communist Party, says that the new decree will tend to reduce the prices of food and raw materials. That, of course, is its object—to get a better yield, avert scarcity, and so reduce prices. The change is due to the fact that methods hitherto employed have failed, in collective farm- ing, to produce the supplies which the Government needed.