Agriculture and Industry Khrushchev, Brezhnev

  • This set of cards follows the set on the economy under Stalin.
  • I split them up this way because there is a lot of information on Stalin, but not as much for the later leaders. 
  • There is also a set of cards on the economy under Lenin.

Problems facing Khrushchev

  • Bureaucracy stifled innovation. It was difficult to innovate, as there was fear of upsetting the Plan. 
  • It was difficult for the system to respond to sudden changes in demand for goods.

Problems in agriculture:
1) Farmer's income was far too low due to the state procurement prices.
2) Low productivity.
3) High taxes on farmers disincentivised progress. 

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Khrushchev's aims for the economy

  • Build communism.
  • Khrushchev and the Party believed that under Stalin the Soviet Union had entered socialism. With new reforms the next stage would be communism. 
  • He declared that by 1980 communism would be achieved. This meant that by this time housing, transport and food would be available freely and cheaply. 
  • Believed that the Soviet system worked and only small changes were needed.
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Khrushchev industrial reforms

  • 105 Regional Economic Councils (Sovnarkhozy) established. This was to move decision-making from the center to a local level. 
  • Increased targets for consumer goods. 
  • Focused on light industry: manufacturing household products such as clothes, shoes and furniture. Also a focus on chemicals and consumer goods. 
  • Technical and vocational schools set up to educate workers. 
  • To encourage innovation managers could keep 40% of profits to invest in their factories. 
  • Cuts in military spending
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Seventh Five-Year Plan

Launched January 1959


  • Boost agricultural production + consumer goods by investing in the light industry. 
  • Shift in focus from coal to oil and gas. 


  • Successes in the space race: Sent the first living creature, Laika the dog, into space. Planted a red flag on the moon. Yuri Gagarin was the first man to be sent into space. 
  • 50% of households had a television by 1968


  • Space race used up resources.
  • Sovnarkhozy made planning difficult. 
  • Gosplan was overhwelmed with work. 
  • Many of Khrushchev's reforms were ignored. 
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Agricultural reforms

  • 1955: individual collectives given greater powers to make decisions at local level. 
  • Machine Tractor Stations (MTS) abolished. 
  • Collectives increased in size, some became agro-industrial villages which linked food production with food processing. This enabled more investment and an increase of technologies such as mechanisation, fertlisers and irrigation. 
  • The State paid more for food procurement.
  • Requisition of food replaced by planned purchases. 
  • Peasants could sell crops from their private plots of land. This increased the amount of food supplies. 
  • Corn Campaign: encouraged farmers in Ukraine to grow maize for animal feed. 
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The Virgin Land's Scheme (1954)

New land was opened up for agricultural production. 

Volunteers (often from Komosol) were put to work in places such as Siberia. 

Six million acres of land started being cultivated. 

120,000 tractors provided for this scheme. 

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Impact of Khrushchev's policies


  • Income of farmers doubled between 1952 and 1958. 
  • Greater fertilisers, mechanisation, irrigation. 
  • Food production rose by 51% by 1958


  • Wages of farmers were significantly less than industrial workers. 
  • Peasants unhappy with collectives as they felt disconnected from the land they worked on. 
  • Central control meant that the government did not understand local conditions. 
  • Abolition of MTS meant it was harder to access equipment. 
  • Virgin Land Scheme failed because most of the land was unsuitable for crops and it was expensive. 
  • Corn Campaign failed: Soviet farms produced 50% of what American farms could.
  • Had to import grain from the USA and Australia.
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Brezhnev: Kosygin Reforms

1955: Kosygin, Prime Minister, launched campaign to improve productivity. 

  • Gave incentives to managers to use their reosurces more productively. 
  • Focus on cost and profit rather than obtaining high output. 


  • Officials tasked with implementing the reforms were unenthusiastic. 
  • Bonus not given for innovation, so many used old methods. 
  • Focus on profit made some companies produce fewer, more expensive products, rather than affordable items that were of high demand. 
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Industrial reforms under Brezhnev

  • 1973: industrial complexes joined with scientific research facilites so make sure the newest techonology was being used. 
  • Possibility of new technology was limited because it took time to install. Managers feared missing targets.
  • New machinery left to rust. 
  •  Using cost and profit to judge success was not useful because prices were set by the government not be supply and demand. 
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Ninth Five-Year Plan


  • Push in the production of consumer goods. 
  • Rate of growth in consumer goods higher than heavy industry, 
  • By 1980, 85% of families had a television, and 70% had washing machines.
  • More investment in public transport. 
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Agriculture reforms under Brezhnev

Power returned to Ministry of Agriculture.

Virgin Lands Scheme ended. 


  • Decline in worker productivity. 
  • Agricultural workforce largely unskilled, equipment and machinery prone to breaking down, food rotetd before it could reach the market = couldn't meet growing demand. 
  • Less food available = private trading 

Workers Brigades: 

  • Government gave profits as incentives for the workforce. 
  • Members of collectives could form brigades and decide how profit should be spent and distributed. 
  • Successful campaign but it was cancelled. 
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Reforms under Andropov:

Andropov was General Secretary between 1982 and 1984. 

  • Lots of corruption: falsifying figures to make it seem like targets were fulfilled, materials from national factories were stolen and put into private factories
  • Andropov aimed to deal with this corruption.


  • Government completed spot checks looking for slackers. This was to combat the rampant alchoholism and absenteeism. 
  • This made workers resent him. 
  • Asked people to come forward with ideas on how to improve production, but many were afraid to as he was the former head of the KGB (secret police)
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