MOSCOW (AP) _ In more bad news for Russia's food situation, the country has harvested only half as much grain so far this year as it did in the same period last year, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Thursday.

Russia's farms and agricultural companies threshed 55 million tons of grain from Jan. 1 to Oct. 12, down 46 percent from the same time in 1997, ITAR-Tass said, citing the State Statistics Committee.

Russia is expecting one of its worst harvests in 40 years because of drought. The government reportedly is seeking up to 3.3 million tons of donated grain from the United States.

Farmers also are planting less for the 1999 harvest. They plowed 54 million acres this fall, down from 61 million acres last year.