Identification - Russia's key to the global meat market

2 March 2018
Identification - Russia's key to the global meat market

On February 27, within the 16th International Exhibition "Meat and Dairy Industry" a round table "Meat cattle breeding: a new management model in the agro-industrial complex of Russia" was held. The main topic of discussion was the introduction of an animal identification and registration system, which is a prerequisite for the transition to an electronic veterinary certification system. However, while the identification system in Russia is missing with the EMU implementation program under way, the experts of the agro-industrial complex share their thoughts and experience of pilot projects.

The meeting was opened by the deputy head of the Executive Committee of the National Meat Association Maxim Sinelnikov, who noted that in the international meat stream, Russia accounts for about 2% of the world's beef. The largest players are the USA, Canada, Brazil. "But we think that our share of this pie should be at the level of 15-17%. The goals are ambitious. And after several decades we plan to enter the world market of beef and consolidate there as leaders. The key to success in all world markets is the identification and recording of animals. On the territory of the Customs Union, 85% of the poultry population is grown in the Russian Federation, but to our shame, only we do not have an identification system, unlike Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Without identification, we can not develop exports, security and epizootic well-being," Sinelnikov said.

Ilyas Adiatulin, head of the department for laboratory control over the activities of the Rosselkhoznadzor subordinate institutions, also confirmed the importance of identification as the main method for maintaining food security, fair competition and consumer interests. "The identification number will be 15-digit, which will allow it not to repeat for 100 years. The cost of identification, according to rough estimates, will be 7-10 euros per cow. According to optimistic forecasts, this year identification rules should be adopted, and from 2019 gradual implementation of identification will begin."

Maxim Sinelnikov thanked the speaker of the Rosselkhoznadzor, noting that "we are already beginning to implement jointly developed approaches, regardless of what is happening with normative documents." At the same time, the moderator noted that earlier the draft law limited the circle of persons who contribute information to the Rosselkhoznadzor system, and the producers had then the obligatory condition that the immediate owners of animals and veterinary non-state specialists should have access to the system. To this remark, Ilyas Adiatulin replied that the Rosselkhoznadzor as a whole shared this proposal: "Indeed, the issue of identification is tied not so much to state bodies as to various associations and unions, so your proposal has a rational grain, and we support it."

Roman Kostyuk, director of the National Union of Beef Producers, noted that in the modern technologies of cattle breeding one can see a huge range of possibilities. "The crucial point is real-time management, and this is timely information and analytics. Today, control and surveillance tools have such a wide range of applications that they can also be means of identification. It is not the desire of the Rosselkhoznadzor to control everything, but the fact that the Rosselkhoznadzor will use part of the management system that has appeared in the industry."

As a successful (and so far the only) example, Kostyuk mentioned the Tomsk region - a pilot region that tests identification. In the Tomsk region, a single market for the turnover of cattle was created, in which movement of cattle is visible in real time. And the cloud database of the implementation can predict the best conditions for sale, the optimal time for sale. "This is a cloud system, no local systems do not provide such opportunities. The cattle of the Tomsk region is visible for six months before the sale, the best offers are selected, and, moreover, this cattle can receive offers from abroad. At the same time, there is a simultaneous traceability in the Rosselkhoznadzor system. This is a system of direct contact with buyers, breeders and government agencies."

After discussions about the bright future in the era of identification, the word was given to practitioners. The head of the direction of the electronic identification of animals of the company ISBC Alexei Antonov said that in recent years, the practice of introduction in the CIS countries has greatly expanded. "Formerly, identification was carried out because of the need to combat problems - rabies, foot-and-mouth disease, etc. Now we are talking about identification, not in the light of existing problems, but in the light of their prevention. And, of course, the development of the agro-industrial complex is impossible without identification."

The speaker assured that the identification system with a 15-digit number guarantees the accountability of each animal. The first 3 digits are the country or producer code, the remaining 12 are the individual code of the animal itself. "Thanks to this, we can achieve uniqueness of the code for 30 years. In addition, we use different types of tags - a visual tag, an electronic ear tag, a subcutaneous chip, and a sensor that the animal swallows. Different types are used depending on the purpose of the animal."

Separately, Antonov stressed that universal identification and accounting are important not only for trade relations, but also for the analysis of livestock and even the prevention of theft and neglect of animals. "When the identification system is introduced, it will not be necessary to close the whole region, as it is done now. It's enough to track the way of the animal and close several farms, with whose animals a sick cow grazed in one pasture."

Not without lighting problems. The main obstacle is technical issues. "The IT infrastructure is poorly developed on the ground, but I hope that this problem will be solved. The identification system should quickly spread to the federal level so that we can see the full picture of the movement of livestock throughout the territory. But do not forget about hard-to-reach places for identification, for example reindeer breeding zones. Another problem is poor-quality equipment, when something cheaper and simpler is procured, and then one year later one has to buy new equipment. And, of course, state control is important in order not to allow duplication of numbers and other overlays."

Irina Cherdantseva, head of the department for social and economic development of the village of Tomsk region, shared the practical experience of the implementation, where a pilot animal identification project was launched. "When we decided to do a pilot project, we understood that this was a serious interdepartmental work. To date, we have been able to identify with a unique number of livestock in 1300 cows on the basis of "Berezovsky farm", and this is almost 14% of the total livestock in the Tomsk region. What's the output? The main result was the status with the entry of all the data into the Sirius system. The speed of obtaining information has increased dramatically. Experts work more efficiently and receive higher rates for calves' output. In addition, we are ready to conduct genomic assessments and specialized selection of livestock, which contributes to the production of premium livestock."

Plans of the Tomsk region are ambitious - in the near future the region plans to continue identification on other sites. However, technical and legal inconsistencies can impede large-scale distribution of identification.

"First, in the rules and order of identification, all authorized bodies, their functions and data exchange algorithms should be detailed. Today, we still see the legally unsettled role of veterinary services as the coordinator of the implementation of these systems. There is no clear procedure for identifying from the applicant's appeal until the last data is entered in the information system. In addition, we recorded 22% of the total number of livestock in the household farm. Therefore, interaction with owners and the order of this interaction prescribed in normative acts is another important task.

Secondly, there is the lack of identification equipment. We would not like to repeat the experience of Kazakhstan, which introduced identification on the basis of Turkish and Chinese equipment. All equipment quickly went out of order, and it had to be reinstalled. Therefore, we need quality equipment standards.

Thirdly, there are technical problems. We work in at least two systems, we had to purchase additional technical equipment. In addition, 8% of the population in our territory is not covered at all with any connection. And in the coming years, the situation will not improve. Technical equipment is a fundamental task. Before 2019, and maybe even earlier, we need to see the architecture of this information system in the region.

And fourthly, these are, of course, financial problems. To implement the pilot project, we subsidized the costs of the "Berezovsky farm" by 70%. Of course, at the first stage it is necessary to help the farms realize identification, so we very much hope that a financial support program will appear at the federal level, so that the identification has acquired quite different rates in Russia."

At the end of the round table, all participants expressed the hope that the identification system would be the starting point for creating a transparent and efficient system of meat production.

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