November 4, 2011


US officials travel to Kazakhstan, Russia on agriculture trade


To boost agriculture trade, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman and beef producers from across the state went to Russia and Kazakhstan from October 6-17.


Brownback said that the trip was a great opportunity to show other parts of the world what the Kansas cattle industry has to offer. "It was a successful trip that will prove to be very beneficial to the Kansas economy", he added.


Beef producers Steve Irsik of Irsik Equities in Garden City, Mark Brunner of Cow Camp Ranch in Ramona and Thad Geiger of Geiger Farms in Troy travelled to Russia and Kazakhstan to market Kansas purebred beef cattle on behalf of Kansas ranchers.


Irsik, Brunner and Geiger, along with counterparts from Colorado and Montana, were selected to travel on a 12-day mission led jointly by the Kansas, Colorado and Montana Departments of Agriculture.


"Russia and Kazakhstan are oil-producing countries looking to build their agriculture sectors," Brownback said. "Both countries have what we would consider to be small cow herds. In the last few years, they have been buying live, registered cattle as seed stock to rebuild their herds.


"Russia and Kazakhstan are looking around the world for genetics, but they want the best. There's no doubt in my mind the best livestock genetics in the world reside in the US. This is a great opportunity for American ranches to take advantage of the multi-generation investment they have made in developing superior genetics in their cattle."


The Kansans making the trip also focused on marketing feed ingredients, animal health goods and services, and agricultural equipment.


While in Russia, the group attended the Golden Autumn Livestock Exposition, visited with Russian beef producers about US beef genetics and toured ranches to see first-hand what Russian beef production looks like.


The delegation also travelled to Astana, Kazakhstan October 11-12 for meetings about increasing agricultural exports from Kansas to Kazakhstan.


Kazakhstan is in the process of building the animal agriculture sector of its economy. In the last few years, they have been imported live registered Angus and Hereford cattle as seed stock to rebuild their animal herds. Most of these animals are being air freighted from the US.


While in Kazakhstan, the group met with about 15 producers during a roundtable discussion hosted by the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture. In addition, discussions regarding how Kansas and Kazakhstan can strengthen trade of livestock genetics, animal health products, feed ingredients and agricultural equipment were had with the Kazakhstan President, Kazakhstan State Secretary, Kazakhstan First Deputy Prime Minister and Kazakhstan Minister of Agriculture.


"We've had great visits to Russia and Kazakhstan including productive conversations about expanding agriculture trade to these countries with high-level officials," Rodman said. "Additionally, the opportunity to visit ranches has furthered our understanding of how Kansas can best serve the beef industry in these countries through livestock genetics, equipment and feed ingredients."


This trip follows two Kansas Department of Commerce trips to Russia on behalf of Kansas ranchers in 2010. This is the State of Kansas' first trade mission trip to Kazakhstan in recent years.


Russian Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik has accepted Brownback's invitation to visit Kansas in 2012. The Kansas Department of Agriculture is planning a return trip to Russia in February.


This mission trip was made possible by USDA Market Access Programme funding through US Livestock Genetic Export (USLGE.) Memorandums of Understanding are being developed with both Russia and Kazakhstan to help increase agricultural trade with these countries, the Midwest Producer wrote.

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