MOSCOW, July 13 (UPI) -- The Russian government is implementing a $1 billion plan to establish and maintain domestic beef production, officials said.
So far, the country has opened 16 cattle ranches in the southern republic of Bryansk and plans to open 33 by 2014, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
Currently, most of Russia's beef and other meats are imported from Australia and the United States, but the country plans on domestically producing 85 percent of its meat, including poultry, by 2020.
As Russia prepares to join the World Trade Organization, some fear that the country will not be able to compete with other countries and the agriculture industry may struggle.
However, Russian officials said tariffs on meat imports into Russia will be in place until 2020.
"Russia, just as any other WTO member, can use instruments to protect its market if there is unfair competition," Moscow-based National Meat Association head Sergei Yushin told RIA Novosti.
Yushin also said he hopes Russia will extend its "zero-base tax" on profit for the beef industry to help support local producers.
"If funds remain in the companies with good market stability, then they can be used to get new loans [to expand], which means more work places and tax income for the state [through income tax]," he said.
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