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Certified Angus Beef Production Introduced in Russia
USAgNet - 04/06/2016

Amid the forest-rimmed meadows and newly cross-fenced pastures of western Russia, a quarter-million young beef cows earn their keep by producing high-quality beef while building rural communities and a sustainable future for families on two continents.

The Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand began production and sales in Russia this spring, through licensed partner Miratorg Agribusiness Holding, said CAB President John Stika.

Most of those cows are commercial purebred Angus, sourced mainly from the United States over the last eight years, and spurred by Russian loan subsidies aimed at building a modern food supply chain. A large share of them belongs to Miratorg.

Founded in 1995 in Moscow and already a leader in pork and poultry, company executives researched beef production systems. They were familiar with CAB from the imported product in Russia since 1998 until recent years, and on later visits to the U.S. that included shopping for Angus genetics and initial training in American ranch management.

The world's leading brand of fresh beef became a logical end target for the North American-style plan Miratorg announced in 2009 as it began to build up dozens of cattle ranches south of Moscow in the Bryansk region. Its leadership team reached out to CAB in 2011 to explore mutual opportunities, which have been discussed in CAB board meetings since 2013, according to minutes.

"The decision to expand beyond North America for the first time was not taken lightly," Stika said, "but we found much in common. It's rare to have the opportunity to engage with people starting from scratch," he added. "And while this partnership has great potential for Russian agriculture and consumers, it stands to strengthen the global reach and reputation of the Certified Angus Beef brand."

CAB board chair John Pfeiffer, Mulhall, Okla., said the decision is "a natural fit," good for the brand and for breeders: "This whole initiative started when Miratorg began building a herd based on superior Angus genetics from the U.S., and now they are an active member of the American Angus Association."

USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) estimates more than $300 million in U.S. beef cattle sales to Russia in the last five years, most of that in 2012. Another 80,000 beef cows are expected to enter the country this year.

Two 50,000-head feedyards and Miratorg's 400,000-head annual capacity processing plant were completed in the last two years. These channel production from 140,000 Angus cows, primarily offspring of registered cattle and genetics imported from members of the American Angus Association.

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