chapter  4
The Land
WithDJ Peterson
Pages 29

Soviet agricultural policies have had a negative impact riot only on farmland but on the environment at large. Like other natural resources in the Soviet Union, agricultural land suffered heavily from the extensive nature of its exploitation. One of the most telling indictments of the Soviet economic system was the persistent queues for food at state stores even as the government spent billions of dollars to import massive quantities of grain. In addition to its tax on the economy, Soviet agricultural development policy emphasized massive investments in mechanization, chemicals, and irrigation that proved catastrophic for the state of land resources and compounded the region's food supply problems. Fertilizer use began to taper off in 1988. Deliveries of fertilizer decreased by one-fifth by 1990, but gross agricultural output remained relatively steady. With Nikita Khrushchev's crash campaign to "chemicalize" agriculture, begun in the early 1960s, fertilizer became one of the most important weapons in the Soviet struggle to produce more food.