The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, that the ban on livestock auctions that was declared in December has now been lifted.
However, government’s response to the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak had been lacking from the start and requires much more than just the banning or unbanning of livestock auctions.
Whilst conducting our “Real SONA” tour, DA leader John Steenhuisen witnessed the devastating impact that FMD had on our farming and rural communities. It was clear that government’s belated response to this situation had been completely inappropriate and wreaked havoc in the industry.
Not only did the ban on livestock auctions have a disastrous effect on trade with our SADC neighbours, but poor border control meant that infected animals were still able to cross at will from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and South Africa’s farmers were forced to jump in and make use of their own finances to manage a situation that government failed to be pro-active on.
Therefore, while we welcome that our call to unban auctions had been heeded, we urgently propose:
- That government make urgent provision to supply farmers in affected areas with the necessary medication and the support needed to vaccinate their animals within days after an outbreak first becomes known;
- That the Department urgently compile a disease response plan that includes:
Mapping the country into different management zones so that a disease outbreak in one area can be addressed without the need to halt livestock farming activities in the entire country;
Operational plans to supply farmers with vaccines and vaccination support, to quarantine affected herds and prevent movement of animals from affected areas, and to roll out stricter border controls in the event of an outbreak in a neighbouring country, including testing of all animals and meat entering the country
The process that the department adopted to combat this disease has caused much more damage than relief, especially to those who earn a living from South Africa’s red meat industry. FMD needs to be managed properly going forward, as the consequences of more outbreaks will be devastating.
The DA believes that the farming community cannot be expected to simply absorb these losses brought about by government’s failure to do its job. It is clear that Minister Didiza and her department are simply not serious as they have not provided us with a concrete plan as to how they will eradicate the disease and prevent the possibility of future outbreaks.
Noko Masipa MP
DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development
Paul Makube, the Senior Agricultural Economist at FNB always welcomed the lifting of the ban saying:
The lifting of the ban on livestock auctions is a welcome relieve for producers, auctioneers, feedlots and other stakeholders across the value chain. The market can now return to normality and correct the supply imbalance that was caused by the ban.
Initially, the Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), outbreak of 2019 in January and November respectively brought about urgency towards improvement of biosecurity in the country. This saw the industry stakeholders and government’s efforts converging towards the implementation of a Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS),an initiative that is already in place in Namibia. The initiative will see the LITS-SA being operated as a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with proposed funding from both government and industry. The speed at which the country has dealt with the Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), both with the resumption of exports in 2019 and the lifting of the ban on auctions in the announcement today is commendable.
The recurrence of the FMD in November 2019 in the Molemole District in Limpopo at the time resulted in the banning of live auctions across the country and further limiting the country’s export potential due to restrictions. Cash strapped cattle producers faced financial pressures as they could not easily market their livestock and where it was possible, the costs associated with compliance were prohibitive.
Nonetheless, the FMD situation is not declared over yet and activities in the value chain must be conducted along strict measures that have already been implemented.
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