Decree on Exchange of Commodities to Increase the Supply of Grain

Written: April 2, 1918
First Published: Sobranie Uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Rabochego i Krestianskogo Pravitelstva, 1918, No. 30, p. 375.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, The Bolshevik revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and materials, Stanford University Press; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934, pp. 665-666.
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: 2017

1. In order to increase the supply of grain and other food products, the People's Commissariat of Food is charged with the task of organizing an orderly exchange of commodities on a nation-wide scale within the limits indicated below.

2. Some of the following commodities may be used for exchange: dry goods, threads, notions, leather, harnesses, boots, galoshes, matches, soap, candles, kerosene, lubricating oil, agricultural machines, wire, sheet iron, assorted iron, horseshoes, nails, binding twine, rope, glass, utensils, tobacco, tobacco products, salt, molasses, sugar, tea, and their substitutes.

Note: This list can be supplemented and revised upon the agreement of the Commissariat of Food and the Supreme Council of National Economy.

3. The commodities listed in Article 2 are transferred to [the control of] the Commissariat of Food in the quantities necessary to carry out the plan stated above. This transference is to be made on request of the Commissariat of Food in accordance with the plan worked out by the Commissar of Food and the Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy. The central and local organs for distributing these commodities are to carry out the instructions of the Commissariat of Food.

Note: Some of the goods mentioned which are not listed among those to be exchanged are to be distributed by the respective organs in accordance with the plans approved by the Commissariat of Food and by the Supreme Council of National Economy.

4. The Commissariat of Food will issue special instructions to determine the procedure and rules concerning exchanging [manufactured] goods for grain and other food products. .... These instructions should aim: (a) to attract the village poor to help in the organizing of interchange of commodities by handing over to the volost or some other unit for further distribution among the needy population the goods to be exchanged for grain; (b) to work out a plan that will guarantee to the Soviet Republic the return of all the money spent on this interchange of commodities and will draw out of the village bourgeoisie as much paper money as possible.

5. Local food organs and other authorized .... organizations are responsible for carrying out the interchange of goods in accordance with the instructions of the Commissariat of Trade.

6. Without the permission of the Commissariat of Food or its authorized organs no exchange of goods is allowed.

7. Persons guilty of exchanging goods for grain without authority or failing to comply with this decree are subject to arrest and trial.


President of the Sovnarkom


People's Commissars