Gorbachev’s “New Food Program”

Mikhail Gorbachev, who became the Soviet leader in 1985, had a strong background in agriculture. He had served as the Politburo's member in charge of agriculture before he became first secretary of the Communist Party. The Politburo was the highest governing body of the Communist Party. Gorbachev attempted to increase incentives for farmers to produce more food and to improve the Soviet diet. His “new food program” attempted to provide a diet that would compare with that of an American citizen. Gorbachev believed that inefficiency was the main problem of Soviet agriculture.He noted that 20 to 40 percent of all agricultural products were lost each year during harvesting, storage, or in transit to markets. To move perishable fruits and vegetables from the southern agricultural regions to the northern industrial cities, he ordered more refrigerated trucks and railroad cars to be manufactured. He had urban storage facilities constructed. He also directed that massive “greenhouse” complexes be built in the suburbs of Soviet cities to provide fresh vegetables during the winter months. Though he made many reforms, Gorbachev failed primarily because he retained the collective and state farm systems.