Agricultural sectors in Eastern and Central Europe are large so that changes in producer prices, farm employment, and land ownership affect substantial numbers of people. In the past, food in the region was politicized. For decades, governments of Eastern European countries and the USSR offered their citizens stable, subsidized food prices and a steadily improving diet in an effort to demonstrate the superiority of communism over capitalism. During the transition, the context has changed, but food remains politicized. Many consumers in the region are ill-prepared to pay the real costs of food, which are quite high. The task of reducing those costs will be difficult, involving restructuring of farms and fostering competition in processing and distribution. Management of the agricultural transition will affect the political sustainability of the process and influence agriculture's contribution to the growth of emerging market economies. Although the agricultural sector of Eastern and Central Europe is large, Soviet agriculture dwarfs it in its impact on the region and the world. A positive program to stop the decline in Soviet agriculture could contribute to economic growth and political stability. Failure to remedy the fundamental flaws in Soviet agriculture will speed the country's slide into poverty and ethnic turmoil - and undermine the efforts of Central and Eastern Europeans to succeed.
Access to Markets,Environmental Economics&Policies,Economic Theory&Research,Agricultural Knowledge&Information Systems,Markets and Market Access
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