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Backyard poultry farms in Russia under scrutiny

Russia’s State Duma, the lower chamber of the country’s Parliament has registered a bill proposing limitations on the number of poultry in so-called backyard farms.

According to the legislators, these types of farms are not subjected to the common veterinary control, because they are producing meat, milk and poultry only for personal consumption of the owners. However, because of the lack of safety these farms pose a serious threat to the country’s poultry industry in general, amid the continuing spread of veterinary diseases, including highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), the country’s officials warn.

A woman feeds chicken in her flat on the fifth floor of a new building near Moscow. Photo: AFP - Alexander Kurbatov
A woman feeds chicken in her flat on the fifth floor of a new building near Moscow. Photo: AFP - Alexander Kurbatov

Endangering poultry and human health

According to Ilya Kashin, the chairman of State Duma Committee on Agriculture, the current legislation does not limit the volume of poultry flock in the farms, but some limitations should be put in place, based on veterinary and sanitary rules. Kashin explained that these farms often keep animals and poultry in the places not designed for such type of operation at all, so this not only contributes to the worsening of epizootic situation on various diseases, but also puts a negative impact on the environment and hurts citizens who are living nearby these farms.

In addition, Kashin suggested that legislators need to have a closer look into the operation of backyard farms, because they are not subjected to any agricultural taxes, and this makes ground for some unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

Illegal poultry sales

The regional legislators estimate that out of 560,000 backyard farms operating in the Rostov Oblast region at least 30% are producing agricultural products not only for personal consumption, but also for sale. This means that they are in fact conducting business without establishing a legal entity, which is prohibited.

In addition, these farms are not subjected to any veterinary control and this brings certain problems in terms of epizootic situation, Rostov’s legislators emphasised, calling Russia’s Parliament to change legislation on backyard farms, forcing them to pass through re-registration if the population of agricultural animals and poultry are exceeding some limits. In addition, the penalty for trespassing of the law on backyard farms should be stricken.

Phasing out of backyard poultry farms

Reacting to this situation Kharon Amerhanov, the spokesperson of the Russia’s Agricultural Ministry, told the recent governmental meeting that backyard farms in Russia will cease to exist in 15-20 years. He suggested that these farms are manufacturing agricultural production of poor quality and this contributes to the reduction of consumption on some products in Russia. As a result, he said, the Ministry is not willing to see these farms as the part of country’s agricultural industry.

At the same time, according to information of the country’s Agricultural Ministry, the problem with over production on backyard farms really exists. In some particular cases, the population of animals on these farms exceeds the volume that the owners really are able to consume by 100%.

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