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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Farmers To Control Markets

A law that came into effect Wednesday gives food markets a two-month deadline to put their ownership under the control of agricultural cooperatives.

As two-thirds of these cooperatives must be constituted of agricultural producers, the law may put further pressure on the operations of food retail markets across the country.

No less than 50 percent of the stalls at the markets would be designated for agricultural producers, the law says.

The law also stipulates that, as of Wednesday, all markets are obliged to have a management board responsible for the oversight of sanitary conditions and electricity, water and heating maintenance, as well as keeping a register that will include official information on traders operating on the premises. The management boards will have to be picked by the markets' owners, Itar-Tass reported.

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said earlier this month that the law would be reviewed over the two-month transitional period, during which time markets will have to adapt to the new regulations, Itar-Tass said.

Gref also called for measures to be taken to penalize traders found in breach of the market laws.

"Until such a time as the law has mechanisms to force people to comply and includes punitive measures, implementation is unrealistic," Gref said.

Under a law implemented nationwide April 1, foreign traders have been prohibited from operating in the country's markets, which has led to reported shortfalls in goods available for sale.

From March 28 to April 4, the occupancy rate for stalls in Moscow markets fell from 76 percent to 68 percent, the Federal Statistics Service said Wednesday. About half the stalls in St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk were empty, the service said. In 10 other regions, including Novosibirsk, the number of occupied stalls remained largely unchanged.

The average rise in prices at all the markets in the 16 regions included in the study was "the fastest since the beginning of the year," the service said in the statement, without providing specific figures for foodstuffs. Bloomberg, MT