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Moscow Agricultural Society


A voluntary association chartered in 1819, the Moscow Agricultural Society was a forum for discussing agricultural policy. Its membership came mainly from the serf-owning nobility and included prominent Slavophiles of the 1850s. In the 1830s Finance Minister Egor Kankrin provided a small financial subsidy, but the society's main support came from its members. Its meetings, exhibitions, and publications were devoted to issues of agricultural innovation, such as new crops and species of livestock and new methods of crop rotation. Its earliest activities included a model farm (khutor ) near Moscow and an agricultural school. After the end of serfdom in 1861, the society's focus turned to economic and administrative questions: taxation, the agricultural role of the new zemstvo organs of local government, the provision of agricultural credit, the creation of a Ministry of Agriculture. It cooperated with the Free Economic Society and other organizations in a multivolume study of handicraft trades (18791887), advocated expansion of grain exports through the construction of railroad lines and storage facilities, and promoted the mechanization of agriculture. The Moscow Agricultural Society corresponded with agricultural societies in other countries, and with local affiliates in various parts of Russia. At the beginning of the twentieth century some of its members advocated abolition of the peasant commune and the encouragement of private land ownership and a market economy. Others helped create the All-Russian Peasant Union in 1905, and later the moderate League of Agrarian Reform. The organization was dissolved after 1917, but its library was preserved in the Central State Agricultural Library of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

See also: agriculture; free economic society; peasantry; slavophiles; zemstvo

Robert E. Johnson

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