Sunday, June 21, 2009

Main Selection Centre of Ukraine

MSCU at Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky was the elite cattle genetics farm in Ukraine under the Soviet regime. The Director, Irina Volenko, was an amazing powerful woman with a vision of where she wanted the farm to go and the political connections to make it happen. When Ukraine became independent the farm remained a State Owned Enterprise (SOE) while many of the other genetics farms were privatized.

At its peak, the farm employed several hundred people, milked 250 top quality Holsteins and ran about 250 beef cows of several different breeds. It had a bull stud of about two or three dozen bulls and sold semen to dairy farms all over Ukraine. It was in a joint venture with a Canadian genetics company which also kept bulls on site. The farm had a hotel and classrooms for seminars and often had Canadian and American specialists teaching dairy and beef production. Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) delivered a CIDA funded Beef and Forage project through MSCU beginning in 1999, which is how I met Tanya.

Even then it was obvious to some, that the farm’s glory days were numbered, that times were changing. When Irina died, her oldest daughter took over as Director of MSCU, while her youngest daughter managed the joint venture. The farm lost money, salaries went unpaid for up to a year. Other directors followed at MSCU and the Canadian joint venture eventually dissolved into Ukrainian Farms, a genetics import and distribution company owned by Irina’s daughter. Good people left the farm for other jobs.

Today the farm milks maybe 140 Holstein cows, has 60 Angus cows, no bulls, sells no semen and is in the process of being privatized – sold by auction, I understand. Salaries have not been paid for several months. There were only three people left there whom I knew. My friends Artur and Oksana now work for Ukrainian Farms.

When Irina was Director she built herself and her two daughters, three big fancy houses. On a salary of maybe $500 USD per month. That was sort of expected of farm directors. However the former chief accountant allegedly built two houses for herself and her son and bought an apartment in Kyiv for her daughter on a salary of maybe $400 per month. I am told that she no longer works there but is currently building the house pictured below. Across the road from the office of MSCU where she used to work. Any questions?


  1. Question: "Even [in 1999] it was obvious to some, that the farm’s glory days were numbered, that times were changing."

    "Can you explain why the 'glory days were numbered'? asked the pesky reporter sitting in the back row.

  2. The system was changing. Independent compaies could import and distribute semen, providing competition. There are "no" good bulls of Ukrainian origin, mainly because poor management of Ukrainian dairy farms rendered any attempt at "proofs" to be inaccurate at best.
    MSCU was not market driven.

  3. OK, most of that makes sense.

    But if there are "'no' good bulls of Ukrainian origin," how come we get so much bull from there?

    Cf.: Psalm 50: 9

  4. P.S.: Sounds like a major "quality control" problem.

  5. P.P.S.: Quality control problem at MSCU.

    The other bull is beyond control, but is of high quality.


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