Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Cooperative Accord: Russia/U.S.

"I don't like sanctions as such, but they forced the Russian government to change the paradigm and start developing domestic production."
"One day agriculture will replace oil in terms of importance for the Russian economy. If we do everything right, I am sure it will."
"We have a lot to learn from Americans. I saw how their farmers work 12-14 hours per day. This is a baseline of a nation’s prosperity."
Viktor Linnik, co-owner, Miratorg company, Russian landowners

"At first people always want to use pressure to handle the cattle and don't realize how much like a predator they seem to the cow. You have to understand how it thinks."
"Very seldom am I treated as a bad guy because I am an American."
Ashley Chester Corlett, 38, American trainer
Ashley Chester Corlett's final month at a ranch in Valuets, Russia. Mr. Corlett, of Riverton, Wyo., is part of a group of Americans brought in to train Russian cowboys at ranches owned by the Miratog company -- Credit
James Hill for The New York Times

"Working here is hard. Many people cannot stand it, especially the need to stay sober."
Viktor P. Buivolov, ranch manager

"We come to work and they [American trainers] already drive a herd somewhere. Americans are very hard-working."
Viktor I. Golanov, 37, Miratorg Russian ranchhand
This is Russians returning to the land, long after the debacle of Russian Communism and collectivism, where farms operated by and for the people, owned by the state, and arguing that 'from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs' would henceforth rule the social, political and workplace order. Which, in theory sounded like an excellent way to take advantage of the fact that people are capable of different things; some work successfully and others do not, but everyone has the same common needs.

Trouble raised its irritating head, however when other human traits happened to be overlooked, that of trusting people to voluntarily be inspired to lend themselves to a common enterprise for the good of all concerned, if incentive of a personal nature was lacking. Prosperity arriving on the heels of dedication to hard work fell by the wayside, since everyone was entitled to a similar reward, irrespective of whether they dedicated themselves to the work at hand, or simply dawdled, preferring others to take up the slack.

Communism imploded into itself, a failed social experiment, but human nature did not change. There will always be those who are enterprising and innovative and many more others who will exert the least effort to help themselves. Among them there will be those whose total focus is directed toward enriching themselves at the expense of others, and who through clever manipulation succeed. These are usually those of the political class.

Whose ambitions often backfire when their naked aggression serves to annoy and irritate international partners who then invoke their displeasure through sanctions imposed upon the country, the result of which is that the economy sinks and people suffer. And then, when spite succeeds in influencing that same wayward politician that counter-punishment in the form of retaliatory sanctions targeting food imports takes place, it is not the politicians whose dinner plates become meagre, but the ordinary citizen's.

Enterprising brothers, Viktor and Aleksander Linnik aspired to create an agricultural salvation to help address the problem, even while President Vladimir Putin tacitly recognized it, setting a goal of agricultural self-sufficiency for Russia by the year 2020. The two brothers began to acquire property and developed cattle ranches. They now have amassed over 60,500 hectares of rangeland for their Miratorg operations.

In the recognition that Russians have forgotten their links to the land and the ability to manage the animals that make up the livestock the ranches grow to market, the brothers looked abroad for expertise, considering first Brazilian and Australian cattle-handlers, but then deciding for American ones, taking into account the similarity in weather conditions and climate between the American West in Wyoming and that in Central Russia.

They hired on contract American cowboys to teach their Russian counterparts best practise cattle wrangling.Ten trainers were brought in to demonstrate that understanding the animals they would be working with, would be the start to knowing how best to handle them so the animals are not stressed and their care and handling would not create unneeded work and potential danger to those who work with them.

In a country where  self-sufficiency in agriculture had deteriorated, and reliance on oil and gas extraction and export became the major source of revenue, the double whammy of falling energy resource pricing due to a world glut on the international marketplace and Russia's earned sanctions resulting from its military adventures in Ukraine, let alone its added intervention in Syria, the country is experiencing economic difficulties.

Miratorg stands out as an enterprise whose operations are in contrast to other parts of the Russian economy. The ranch that Mr. Corlett was working on represents just one in many operated by the company. But at this one a few thousand head of Angus wander the wide fields of the pasturelands. Eventually the cattle are shipped off to a beef processing factory owned by the company, one of the most modern in Europe.

The Americans are training 1,000 cowboys to care for more than 360,000 cattle, which the Miratorg association calls the largest flock of its type in the world -- Photograph by James Hill, The New York Times

Mr. Corlett (and his fellow American cattlemen) makes visits to 51 similar Miratorg ranches for the purpose of training Russian cowboys. Their contract is specific to the training of one thousand Russians watching over some 360,000 head of cattle. Instead of the typical American cowboy Stetson, the difference is that Russian cowboys wear ushankas, fur caps with ear flaps. Moreover, the Russians have also to learn how to ride the horses they use in roundups.

"This is a tough, dangerous and stressful job. The cattle are wild", commented a former carpenter, now a Russian cowboy, Nikolai Barbashin.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet