Meat export ban plays havoc with agriculture

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RedMeat1 Independent Newspapers. Red meat beef. Photo: Supplied.

The red meat export ban that has been in place for over two years because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is a “major crisis” which has had a ripple effect on a host of associated industries, according to organised agriculture.

The ban is affecting the export of stud animals, horses, game, milk, and the animal feed industry.

In addition, agriculture says the government is not helping the country find new markets that will take local red meat exports – despite the outbreak.

Outbreaks of the disease are restricted only to certain regions, particularly near the country’s borders.

Carl Opperman, head of Agri-WesCape, said yesterday: “It is a crisis. We need exports. Our trade balance is going for a loop, we need to create jobs, but government red tape is a big stumbling block.

“For instance, India wants out pork, especially for its five-star hotels, because South African pork is of a high quality.

“Also, it’s a major problem to start a market. The Departments of Agriculture and of Trade and Industry need to work on this.”

John Durr, chairman of the Western Cape Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, said the industry hoped to hear next month if the ban would be lifted. This depended on the findings of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

“At the moment we can export nothing with a cloven hoof. We can’t even sell stud stock to neighbouring countries like Namibia.

“They want our breeding stock, there is a lot available here, but we sit with this ban…” Durr said.

He said before the OIE would lift the ban, the country had to put specific measures in place and meet certain requirements over a period. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was responsible for implementing these measures.

 

Lardus van Zyl, chairman of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, said yesterday the OIE had submitted a report on their findings to the department, but this was being kept under wraps.

The Red Meat Industry Forum, an umbrella body of several organisations, had sent several letters to the department asking to see the report.

“It was a survey on the department’s measures, but they’re hiding it, no one has seen it. If you’ve got a good report you would send it out, so I’m not very positive,” Van Zyl said.

He said the government should have cordoned off those areas affected by foot-and-mouth two years ago.

“The ban is affecting us financially. For instance, Namibia had a drought and they’re sitting with a shortage of C-grade animals.

“C-grade beef is going for R30/kg in Namibia and about R24kg here, but we can’t take advantage of this because our exports are blocked.

“The ban is affecting the wool, game, milk and stud industry, even animal feed. In an area of northern KwaZulu-Natal there is sugar cane in the feed, which can’t be exported.”

At a portfolio committee meeting yesterday department director-general Edith Vries told MPs that the OIE had made recommendations to her department.

“We will submit a report at the end of February and the OIE will then follow up.”

Vries told MPs that there was “a general understanding in government that there has not been sufficient investment in agriculture”. - Cape Times



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