East Germany's troubled farmers got a break today when the government announced a $636-million deal to sell food and cigarettes to the shortage-plagued Soviet Union.
The deal will allow farmers to get rid of some of the unsold produce and meat that have been jamming storerooms and slaughterhouses in the last several months. East German stores have been spurning home-grown goods in favor of Western products.
About 255,000 tons of meat, 60,000 tons of butter, 5,000 tons of fish and more than 1 million eggs are included in the estimated $636-million contract with the Soviet Union, officials said.
Also included in the deal is sales of 1 billion cigarettes. The Soviet Union has been plagued by unrest over mass shortages of tobacco.
The contract was announced by government officials and West German Agriculture Minister Ignaz Kiechle, who will be in charge of East Germany's crumbling farm economy after the two nations unify on Oct. 3.
Officials said deliveries will begin in the next few days and continue through June.
East German farms--Soviet-style collectives that are typically over-staffed--have been unable to sell enough goods to cover their payrolls and operating costs since the nation switched to a free market on July 1.