Milk in a glass and pitcher.
October 29, 2019

Russia Importing Thousands Of European Dairy Heifers

Top Story  |   |  By: Jim Dickrell

If you can’t import butter and cheese due to self-imposed trade barrier, import dairy cattle and produce your own.

That’s exactly the tact Russia is now taking, importing 45,000 dairy heifers from the European Union, at cost of some $110 million dollars. This is the second consecutive year Russia has increased its live dairy cattle imports, and this year’s head count is already double those of 2016, reports Bloomberg.

When Russia invaded parts of Ukraine in 2014, the European Union, the United States and Australia embargoed Russia from exporting to those countries. In retaliation, Russia barred the importation of dairy products. That precipitated large declines in world prices, and only now are world markets adjusting and recovering.

Responding to pleas from its own consumers for more dairy products, Russia is now building modern dairy facilities with state-of-the-art equipment from Germany and Sweden, and is now importing heifers to fill those barns. It also offers enticing subsidies to finance those operations, with interest rates of 2.5% and 25% state refunds on capital purchases.

Still, Russia has a long way to go. Russian per cow production is less than half that of American farms, and a third of its milk production comes household farms where some cows are still hand milked. And with its long history of collectivization and state-owned farms, self-reliance and entrepreneurship has also proven challenging.

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