Moscow to Slash Meat Imports

The government will spend an extra $4.1 billion to support agriculture through 2012 and is considering slashing meat imports by "hundreds of thousands of tons," ministers said Wednesday.

The announcements came after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia should freeze some of its commitments made during World Trade Organization accession talks in an effort to support domestic farmers.

"The time has come to change the quota regime and reduce imports, which have unfortunately been on the rise recently" and hurt Russia's interests, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev told reporters Wednesday. Quotas for pork and poultry imports could be cut by "hundreds of thousands of tons," he said.

"We've been cheated, to put it mildly," Gordeyev said, Interfax reported.

Current quotas, agreed on during WTO talks three years ago, allow for the import of 870,000 tons of poultry from the United States in 2008.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Wednesday said the government planned to spend an additional 102 billion rubles ($4.1 billion) on agriculture, including 39 billion rubles this year and 21 billion rubles a year from 2009, Interfax reported.