Big Cheese

A German Cowboy in Russia

The big cheese. Stefar Dürr at his Russian dairy. Source. Handelsblatt
An all-dairy diet. Stefar Dürr at his Russian plant. Source. Handelsblatt
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Stefan Dürr is chief executive of German agricultural giant Ekosem, which happens to own one of Russia’s largest dairy producers. His company highlights just how intertwined German and Russian business is and why sanctions are never straightforward.
  • Facts


    • The European Union and the United States imposed economic sanctions on Russia in late July, targeting the energy, banking and defense sectors.
    • Russia imposed a ban on food imports from the European Union in retaliation.
    • German agricultural firm Ekosem raised production in its Russian agricultural business Ekoniva in response to the ban.
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During a visit to Russia’s Voronezh region in August, Russian president Vladimir Putin met up with Stefan Dürr, a German who is president of Russia’s largest dairy producer Ekoniva.

Mr. Putin wanted to hear what Mr. Dürr thought of Russia putting limits on food imports from the European Union, in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Ukraine. Mr. Dürr thought Russia had the capacity to withstand an import ban, and could strengthen its own production.

On the following day, Russia’s president slapped a ban on imports for Western food products such as meat, fish and milk.

Farmers in Europe may be suffering from the decision, but Mr. Dürr is in the black, thanks to Mr. Putin’s policy.

Mr. Dürr’s 21,000 dairy cows are now literally “cash cows.”  They produce about 435,000 liters (114,000 gallons) of milk daily, an amount that could fill more than half of a 25-meter swimming pool.

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