Central Executive Committee
Decree on Food Procurement

Written: May 13, 1918
Source: Seventeen Moments in Soviet History
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: marxists.org 2017

A ruinous process of disintegration of the food procurement of the country-the heavy legacy of a four-year war- continues to extend and aggravate the existing distress.

While the consuming provinces are starving, great stocks of cereals, including the 1916 harvest and the 1917 harvest which has not yet been threshed, lie, as habitually, in the producing provinces. These stocks are in the hands of rural kulaks and wealthy people, in the hands of the rural bourgeoisie. Replete and satisfied, having accumulated an enormous mass of money earned in the years of war, this rural bourgeoisie remains deaf and unresponsive in the face of the moaning of starving workers and poor peasants; it refuses to dispatch cereals to the state station points with the aim of forcing the state to increase again and again the price of cereals, while at the same time it sells for its own benefit cereals in the provinces of fabulous prices to speculators and bagmen.

The obstinacy of the greedy kulaks and wealthy peasants must be brought to an end. The food procurement experience of the last years has shown that the failure to apply fixed prices on cereals and a grain monopoly facilitates the feeding of a small group of our capitalists by making food inaccessible to several millions of toiling people and exposing them to the inevitability of death by starvation.

The reply to the violence of grain holders upon the rural poor must be violence upon the bourgeoisie.

Not one single pood of grain must remain in the hands of the grain holders, except the quantity needed for sowing and subsistence of the household until the next harvest.

And it is necessary to implement all this immediately, especially after the occupation of the Ukraine by the Germans, as we must content ourselves with the resources of cereals which are barely sufficient for sowing and survival.

Taking into account this situation and considering that only by rigorous accounting and even distribution of all grain stocks of Russia is it possible to get out of the food provision crisis, the All-Russian Executive Central Committee has decreed:

(1) By keeping firmly the grain monopoly and fixed prices and also carrying out a merciless struggle against grain speculators and bagmen, to compel each grain holder to declare the surrender of all surpluses, except the quantity needed for consumption on established norms until the next harvest, in one week after the notification of this decree in each volost. The rules applying to the orders will be defined by the local food procurement organs of Narkomprod.

(2) To invite all toiling people and unpropertied peasants to unite immediately in a merciless struggle against the kulaks.

(3) To declare enemies of the nation all people having surpluses of grain and not handing them over to the station points and even dissipating the stocks of cereals for their own home brew instead of delivering them to the collecting stations; to bring them before the Revolutionary Courts, put them in jail for not less than ten years, confiscate all their belongings, banish them out of the obshchina and condemn the holders of home brew to forced labor in public works.

(4) In the case of discovery of any surplus of grain which had not been declared for delivery, according to point 1, grain will be requisitioned without payment, and half of the value which was due at fixed prices for the undeclared surplus will be paid to the people who took part in discovering the surpluses, after they have been in fact received in the collecting stations, and the other half to the Agricultural Community. Information about discovery of surpluses has to be reported to the local food procurement organs.

Considering also that the struggle against the food procurement crisis requires the adoption of rapid and decisive measures, that the most fruitful realization of such measures requires in turn the centralization of all decisions on food matters into a single institution, and that such an institution is the People's Commissariat of Food Procurement, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee has decreed-for the purpose of a more successful struggle against the food crisis-to attribute to the People's Commissar of Food Procurement the following powers:

(1) To issue obligatory decisions on food procurement matters, exceeding the normal limits of competence of the People's Commissar of Food Procurement.

(2) To abrogate instructions of local food procurement organs and institutions contradicting plans and activity of the People's Commissar of Food Procurement.

(3) To solicit from institutions and organizations of all departments the indisputable and immediate fulfillment of the commissar's decisions on food procurement matters.

(4) To make use of armed troops in the case of resistance to requisition of grain and other foodstuffs.

(5) To dismiss or reorganize the food procurement organs in the localities if they oppose the People's Commissariat of Food Procurement's decisions.

(6) To discharge, dismiss, take before the Revolutionary Court, and submit to arrest appointees and employees of all departments and social organizations, if they interfere in a disruptive way with the commissariat's decisions.

(7) To transfer the present powers, except the right to arrest of point 6, to other people and institutions in the localities upon authorization of the People's Commissariat of Food Procurement.

(8) All measures of the People's Commissars of Food Procurement related by their nature to the People's Commissariat of Transport and to VSNKh are implemented upon agreement with the corresponding departments.

(9) All instructions and decisions of the People's Commissariat of Food Procurement, issued on account of the present powers, are examined by its collegium which has the right-without interrupting their execution-to appeal against them before the Soviet of People's Commissars.

(10) The present decree comes into life from the day of its signing and will be notified by telegraph.