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Charolais Cattle in demand in Russia?

Tue 14 Feb, 2012

By Codi Vallery-Mills of CattleBusinessWeekly.com

A few weeks ago, Montana Charolais breeders, Brett and Kay DeBruycker of DeBruycker Charolais at Dutton, Mont. had a wonderful opportunity to travel to Russia as part of a beef trade mission. While the country is old in its history and heritage, it is just beginning to establish its beef industry.

The DeBruyckers joined other cattle producers from Colorado and Kansas on the mission led by the Montana and Colorado Departments of Agriculture and the Kansas Department of Commerce Oct. 2-12.

This trip was one of several the Montana Agriculture Department has arranged through the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export Inc. (USLGE). The USLGE helps states develop international trade options and in 2007 Montana applied for funding to do a market assessment in Russia.

Marty Earnheart, Meats and Livestock Marketing Officer for Montana, helped coordinate the trip with representatives from Colorado and Kansas. Joining the DeBruyckers on the trip were Black Angus cattle producers Andy Maupin of Spruce Mountain Ranch in Colorado and Mark Rohr of Lazy H Ranch of Kansas. Red Angus breeder, Daniel Mushrush of Mushrush Red Angus in Kansas was also part of the group.

“It is invaluable to take producers along on the trips,” says Earnheart. “I can talk all day long about our genetics in Montana, but to have the actual producer along to talk to a Russian cattle producer is great. It helps them build a relationship and continues our trade mission efforts.”

While in Russia, the group attended the Golden Autumn Livestock Exposition, which is said to be very similar to a state fair here in the United States.

“It was an eye opening experience to see and meet the Russian producers, but also to meet the U.S. producers and talk about our own operations back home,” says Brett DeBruycker.

The group based themselves out of Moscow and traveled south to the Kaluga Region of Russia where they spent three days visiting ranches, dairy operations and farms.

DeBruycker observed that he believed much of the land had been abandoned after the fall of communism and now people are just getting it back into production.

“The Russian government is really trying to develop its agricultural industry. It started first with the dairy industry and now it is working on developing the beef industry,” he says.

Visiting Angus Genetics of Russia is one stop the group made as the operation purchased the foundation of their herd from Angus cattle producers in Nebraska.

DeBruycker commented that 3,000 black Angus cattle were shipped from the U.S. to the farm, which is also looking to expand into a feedyard and eventually a packing plant.

“It was one of the more aggressive, well-funded places we visited, with a husband and wife team from the U.S. managing it,” says DeBruycker.

He adds that there is ample opportunity in Russia right now for work overseas. He encourages anyone who isn’t afraid of working in a foreign country and wants to be involved in the cattle industry to check it out. DeBruycker says he will even help connect those interested with some of the operations the U.S. group visited while there.
A former KGB member that began his beef cattle operation 12 to 15 years ago owned one smaller Russian ranch the group visited. DeBruycker mentions that the man was a very grassroots farmer with 175 head of Hereford cross cattle. The Russian man had been implementing several management practices including artificial insemination.

“We saw both the grassroots operations to the aggressive operations that are well-funded and expanding fast,” says DeBruycker of the experience.

Later he added that if Russia continues to gather the funding for their beef operation the country could become a world beef leader.

“Competition is always a good thing as long as it’s fair,” says DeBruckyer of Russia’s intent. “We will continue to develop quality cattle here in the U.S. and be the global beef leader.”

From the trade missions, Earnheart says Montana has seen a new market open up to Montana cattle producers. This December in fact, Montana will ship 1,400 head of live Hereford and Black Angus cattle to the country along with two shipments of semen and embryos.

Montana ranchers interested in learning more about international marketing opportunities can contact Marty Earnheart at the Montana Department of Agriculture by phone at (406) 444-9126 or by email at mearnheart@mt.gov.

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