MOSCOW/BRYANSK, July 13 (RIA Novosti, David Burghardt)
The Russian government is ambitiously implementing an almost $1-billion investment project in the agricultural sector in order to develop and secure domestic beef production that was severely damaged during the Stalin era.
In Russia’s southern region of Bryansk, which borders Ukraine and Belarus some 200 miles to the southwest of Moscow, the country’s biggest meat importer, Miratorg Agribusiness Holding, has so far launched 16 open range cattle ranches. By the end of 2014, the company plans to expand the number of ranches to 33 with an overall stock of 250,000 Aberdeen Angus, which is considered by many to be the best beef breed.
Live cattle stock is being imported from Australia and the United States by ship to the ports of Novorossiysk on Russia’s Black Sea, and St. Petersburg, and then hauled on semi-trucks to the farms.
Russia spends $3 billion annually on imported meat products and is the world’s largest beef importer. Russia plans to domestically produce 85 percent of its meat, including poultry, by 2020.
Each ranch located in the Bryansk region holds upwards of 7,000 head of cattle and there are presently 56,500 Angus roaming the fields, including 2,800 calves that were born in May and June of this year. Miratorg plans to expand the herd to 80,000 head by the end of 2012.
Home on the Range
Each of the farms in this conglomerate in Bryansk is headed by an American rancher, selected for his knowledge, professionalism, skills, and his ability to share his wisdom with Russian farmers and students. There are more than 1,600 people from farmhands and veterinarians to construction workers and animal husbandry specialists working in Miratorg cattle farms throughout the region. As the business expands, so will job opportunities for local residents.
Anthony Stidham in Bryansk
On a recent trip to a farm outside Bryansk, RIA Novosti spoke with Anthony Stidham, who is a third-generation rancher from Ada, Oklahoma, working on a three-year contract. Stidham, 48, has been living on the ranch for 18 months and is also the “district head” in the area, supervising six ranches.
Stidham, whose wife and twin daughters remained in the United States, says he was pleased with the chance to get to come to Russia and share his know-how with enthusiastic farmers.
“It just sounded like me,” Stidham said when asked why he would come to Russia to do the same thing he does in Oklahoma.
“It’s exciting to work with large herds like this here in Russia, because they’re not as big in the States.”
Stidham spends most of his time on the six ranches he supervises and does not speak Russian. He is, however, surrounded by farmhands and specialists who speak English, one of whom always doubles as a translator for him if needed.
Part of the project includes educating local farmers in cattle breeding and herding. Stidham is very active in this and also delivers lectures in agricultural colleges in the Bryansk region. Many university students have already had the chance to come to one of the ranches and complete their internships.
“I’ve even had students from the United States come here as interns,” Stidham said.
Asked why an American student would come all the way to Russia to do his internship when there are thousands of farms in the Midwest, Stidham said there were more opportunities for the students to get “hands-on experience.”
Angus arriving in Novorossiysk by ship
“The sizes of the farms in Russia are much larger than those in the U.S. So if a student is learning how to artificially inseminate cows, there are limits to the number they can practice on in the States, but here we can line up hundreds for them in one day.”
Most of the cattle on the ranches that Stidham supervises are from Oregon, Wyoming and Montana. Stidham said the Angus breed was selected because it can withstand Russia’s severely low temperatures, which can drop to around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.
Slaughter houses are presently under construction in the region and meat processing should be on line by the end of 2014.
Russian Beef Market and WTO
With Russia about to join the World Trade Organization, many fear that the country will not be able to compete and the agriculture industry may come under extremely difficult times.
Tariff quotas on meat imports into Russia will remain until 2020, by which time the country should be able to be more competitive on world markets.
“Russia, just as any other WTO member, can use instruments to protect its market if there is unfair competition,” Moscow-based National Meat Association head Sergei Yushin told RIA Novosti.
According to the National Meat Association, Russia consumes less than 38 pounds of beef per capita annually; just half the consumption of the United States.
Russia presently imports most of its beef, 93 percent of which is frozen, from a handful of countries, mainly from Brazil with 42 percent of the import market, according to a report published on TheBeefSite.com. Other major exporters are Paraguay (14 percent), Uruguay (13 percent), Mexico (6 percent), the United States (6 percent), and Australia (5 percent). Russia imported 150,100 tons of beef in the first quarter of 2012, according to the same report.
Aberdeen Angus in Winter, Bryansk
Yushin said he hopes Russia will extend the “zero-base tax” on profit for the beef industry to help support local producers.
“If funds remain in the companies with good market stability, then they can be used to get new loans [to expand], which means more work places and tax income for the state [through income tax],” he said, adding that this would improve not only living standards, the demographic problem in rural areas and the health of those living in small villages, but would also have a great affect on slashing crime since there would be more jobs created.
Yushin said many issues in regard to taxation and subsidies have been resolved, though they still remain to be set into law. Many bills have been initiated by the agrarian committee before the lower house of parliament. One of the most discussed issues is on profit tax, and in particular how long the existing standards will remain before being phased out, resulting in the increase in those taxes.
“The National Meat Association’s opinion is to retain the benefits on profit tax throughout the transitional period after joining the WTO up until 2020,” Yushin said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday the country should maintain its zero-rate profit tax for Russian farmers indefinitely.
"The zero tax on profit should be imposed with no time limits," Dvorkovich said during a government meeting.
The Russian government has approved a 2.28 trillion ruble ($69.7 billion) state program for agriculture development in 2013-2020, in an attempt to support domestic agriculture, after the country's accession to the WTO.
Previously the government had planned to end the zero-rate profit tax for farmers from 2013 when it was to be set at 18 percent, rising to 20 percent by 2016.
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- free_mind50(no title)00:47, 14/07/2012Russia might want to screen genetically the cattle, prevent hormone uses in their cattle and ensure efficient and strict standards in their slaughter houses
- SirkoA Horse...A Rope...Grass and Clean Water...!!!02:52, 14/07/2012Curtailed in Stalin's era. Let's also blame the weather and climate change on Stalin...:-) Yup! It was called Civil War and the Onslaught of the fascists. Protected by two large oceans no fascist boots trod down Oklahoma and indeed the entire U.S. of A and all that Oklahoma rancher had to do is get rid of a bunch of bare ass displaced Cherokee and other natives, exterminate the bison and bring on the beef.
Oklahoma rancher's expertise... a horse, a rope, grass and clean water...that is about what the expertise amounts to...an old Cossack can do it all..
Nevertheless, it is a great idea...!!!
- mobealeand04:33, 14/07/2012don't forget the dohgies!
- arsanlupinMore dinosaur manure ...02:49, 16/07/2012You’re obviously as ignorant of animal husbandry and cattle ranching as you are about the world in general. If your hypothetical Cossack tried your brilliant methodology of “a horse, a rope, grass, and clean water” the entire herd would be dead in a month. Raising cattle to produce quality beef is an exact and sophisticated science that has been developed in the USA for two centuries. But then you wouldn't know anything about that ….
The reason why American cattlemen, veterinarians, and animal husbandry specialists had to be hired was because the skills they have in raising quality beef cattle don’t exist in Russia. The Russians wanted the best cattle experts in the world; those experts are almost all in the United States. Those cowboys you speak so derisively of all have graduate university degrees in their specialty. So much for the Cossacks …
You are also obviously ignorant of the history of the Soviet Union. The reason why the skills don’t exist is because Ioseb Besarionis Jughashvili killed it – 12 years after the revolution, and 9 years before World War II.
In 1930 Jughashvili started to convert Russia from an agrarian country into an industrial country. Factories require immense machinery to make anything with – machinery beyond the capability of the new USSR to fabricate. So he decided to buy it, and the only place to buy it from was The West – primarily the United States. Naturally, the Western machinery companies had no interest in soviet currency; they wanted “hard” currency that was internationally traded. The only thing Russia had to sell for hard currency was agricultural goods. So Ioseb set grain quotas for both private and collective farms so high as to be confiscatory – far above levels that would leave behind food for the winter, animal feed for livestock, and seed stocks for the spring. He expected his idea of “kolkhozes” (collective farms) to dramatically increase farm output – but instead it caused a catastrophic drop in farm output. Then he sent out the chekista to enforce the quotas, who naturally took everything they could find. What livestock the chekista didn't confiscate starved, along with up to 20 million people – more than 10% of the population of the country. But then you wouldn't know anything about that …
In addition to the other “collateral damage” of Ioseb’s desire for rapid industrialization (not enough people left alive to work in all the new factories and mines, and 10 years later not enough soldiers to adequately defend against the Nazis) the livestock industry never recovered. Then as now – they had to go to the Americans to get what they needed. The irony is so delicious even a REAL Russian would appreciate it. But then you wouldn't know anything about that …
And you wonder why so many people think of him as worse than Hitler? Hitler killed tens of millions of other people; Jughashvili murdered tens of millions of his own people. But then you wouldn't know anything about that – you've never even been to the former Soviet Union.
- Thoth(no title)03:26, 14/07/2012Overall, this is positive development. Russia has the potential to be a leading food producer. It's already a major grain producer and with the right policies this could work as well.
- PETEPETEPETE(no title)08:31, 14/07/2012Let's hope the cowboys don't come from Brokeback Mountain!! ehehehe...
- Sirko"Stalin was worse than Hitler.." Bizarre American LUNACY to the Nth Degree.03:07, 18/07/2012Do you think I do not know that you simpleton? I did not get my education from Google as you. Do you think for a moment that I do not know Russian history inside out from the ancient Rus to modern times. I can even tell you what ancient tribe an Eastern Slav comes from by looking at his last name. What educated man does not know about Stalin's industrialization program and the Sovhox and Kolhox etc. yada, yada, the Kulaks etc the industrialization and five year and three year plans, etc. It was that industrialization and collectivization which saved the Russian people from extermination because it brought at par with you western fascists. The great difference lies in the fact that I am not brainwashed by American bullshit propaganda which re-invents history at every turn to suite your agenda, and discrediting the Russian people?
Animal husbandry! Ha...!!! Now there indeed is a very difficult topic, however, only to a pea brain such as yourself....Animal science, that is a different game. How many chromosomes does a cow have twit? How many chromosomes does a pig have bullshitter? How many chromosomes do you have, that is if you qualify as Homo Sapiens or are you still evolving and back with Homo Erectus? :What is the gene compliment of each of your chromosomes? A pig and a human have almost the same complement of chromosome, only a difference of two, but in your case the pig and you must have the identical number. Can you tell me what that is you uneducated American propagandist...
Stalin was worse than Hitler!!!! What a ludicrous and brainwashed statement...!!!!!! That practically, verifies my suspicions about you. Polish Jew or Russian Jew, one of the two and which are YOU??? I was correct that the Reds saved your butts only for you to come back as CIA moles and pay back the land who nurtured you ancestors for countless generations.
Go ahead list some more places in Russia as you did before, that I have know since childhood and impress me about your knowledge of Russia. Are you sure this time you are posting on the correct topic? Wow! The Wandering Jew! Did you know that was a plant in Botany?
Stalin was worse than Hitler proof positive of who and what you are and what propaganda has brainwashed you...'Tis is not funny that you always mouth the most up to date propaganda concocted by fascists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and the rest of the Reaganite think tanker RATS.
Get out of here you Zionist Shmuck, you are an insult to good people anywhere.
Why do you not stay put on one topic and have a genuine debate instead you skulk around posting and running...??
I do not even bother reading your junk any more, just a quick look that it is you and my response is instantaneous.
Oh...!!! It is very difficult to raise cattle American style...Stick them in feed lots, by the hundreds of thousands to increase the prevalence virulence of disease. Feed them growth hormones which cause a drop in human fertility. Grind up the dead carcasses and feed them back to the cattle to create 'mad cow' disease...and so on and so forth..IS THERE NO LIMIT TO YOUR DECADENCE AND GREED FOR 'FILTHY LUCRE' you American Zionist Shmuck...???
'...Stalin was worse than Hitler and killed more people than the Nazis...' If you were not such an ill read propagandized IDIOT you would verify that American sang a much different tune not long ago...So I guess history changes in accordance with your wishes...
Go back to Fox Fascist News. Feed this crap somewhere else. Everyone here has your number. No one here has an ulterior motive other than an American Idiot as yourself..
Did I tell a lie about the Cherokee and Oklahoma???? Check it out idiot...Big 'Jacksonian Democracy' and the "Indian Removal Act" taking their lands away and shipping the entire nation to Oklahoma territory in the dead of winter after having the army keep them in a concentration camp during the summer. Now you know who invented concentration camps Jackson not Hitler...
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