The word prodnalog comes from the nouns "food" (prodovolstvie ) and "tax" (nalog ). It is translated as "food tax," or "tax in kind." The food tax was an instrument of state policy to collect food and was used twice during the Soviet period. The first introduction of the food tax was in 1921, during the period of the New Economic Policy (NEP). During the period of war communism (1918–1921), the Soviet state used forced requisitions to confiscate food from peasant households. As a result of forced requisitions, peasants reduced the acreage they cultivated and the volume of food they produced. The food they produced was often hidden from the state, so the net result was national famine and starvation in the cities, which in turn led to massive de-urbanization from 1918 to 1920.
In March 1921, with the introduction of the New Economic Plan (NEP), the Communist Party changed its strategy toward the peasantry and adopted a food tax, replacing food requisitions. The food tax specified target quotas of food that were to be delivered to the state. After the delivery quota was met, any food grown by the peasantry could be used as desired—for sale through legalized private channels, for livestock, or for consumption. Delivery quotas for the food tax were established well below the levels of forced confiscation, thereby lessening the burden on peasants, providing them stability in their calculations, and giving them incentives to produce as much as they could. The result was a rebound in agricultural production by the mid-1920s. In 1924 the food tax was replaced by a monetary tax on peasant households.
The second usage of the food tax occurred in 1991. Once again, the stimulus was the state's inability to obtain sufficient food for the urban population. In 1991 the government of the Russian Republic adopted a food tax that was to be fulfilled in addition to the state order (goszakaz ). The size of the state order averaged around 30 percent of production, and the food tax added another 40 percent. The tax was assessed on state and collective farms and other agricultural enterprises. Newly created peasant farms were exempt from the food tax. In order to enforce this tax, penalties for noncompliance consisted of monetary fines, or the withholding of fuel, machinery, and other needed inputs. However, as Communist Party strength diminished in the countryside and throughout society in 1991, penalties for noncompliance were often absent, and the food tax was not successful. It was abolished in 1992.
See also: agriculture; new economic policy; pro drazverstka
Carr, Edward Hallet. (1952). A History of Soviet Russia: The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917–1923, vol. 2. New York: Macmillan.
Medvedev, Zhores A. (1987). Soviet Agriculture. New York: W. W. Norton.
Nove, Alec. (1982). An Economic History of the USSR. New York: Penguin.
Stephen K. Wegren