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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

10,000 French Cows on Way to Siberia to Up Meat Quality

Five hundred pedigree cows departed eastern France for the Tyumen region Wednesday, the first of some 10,000 that will be delivered to Russia this year under an agreement signed with the French government last year.

There is a shortage of pedigree cows in Russia, where only about 160,000 remain of the 18 million before the 1917 Revolution.

The French cows are beef cattle and will be used for breeding in Western Siberia, Tyumen Governor Sergei Sobyanin said Tuesday.

"We badly need these cows. The situation with meat in the region is very bad," Sobyanin said. "What we have been doing in recent years -- trying to raise cattle that would be good for both meat and milk -- is basically a trap, and in the end we don't get enough of either."

The delivery is part of a program, also approved last autumn, under which up to 10,000 pedigree cows will be delivered to different Russian regions each year for 10 years.

Fifteen regions have filed applications for the French pedigree cows, said Andrei Zhuravlev, president of the Interregional Fund for the Development of Meat Cattle Breeding.

A pilot program was launched two years ago in the Belgorod region, where 987 pedigree cows have been brought from France at the initiative of the regional administration, which paid for the delivery. The experiment has proved successful, organizers of the project said.

Tyumen also paid for its delivery, Zhuravlev said.

The agreement provides for a credit line from the French government, the volume of which will depend on "demand from the regions," he said.

France's Auchan will insure the deliveries, while National Reserve Bank is to provide $20 million in guarantees, said Jean-Jacques Herve, agriculture consul with the French Embassy.

Russia produced 3.2 million tons of beef in 2001, while it imported 816,100 tons, Prime-Tass reported.