Application to lift ban on livestock auctions goes to court
DURBAN – An application by a group of about 50 emerging farmers and other stakeholders to lift a nationwide ban on livestock auctions will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.
The ban was implemented by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development last year after foot and mouth disease (FMD) was detected in Limpopo.
The applicants are seeking the ban to be lifted in eight of the country's nine provinces where the disease has not been reported, saying the decision to implement the ban, taken by minister Thoko Didiza, was "irrational".
The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Noko Masipa, a member of the portfolio committee for the department, said on Monday that the party welcomed the applicants taking the matter to court.
"The DA has consistently called on minister Didiza to lift this moratorium on non-affected areas and deal decisively with FMD outbreak as per the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
"It is unfortunate that amid a national drought, farmers are now being forced to go to court to ensure they can conduct their ordinary business of trading livestock. Moreover, it is regrettable that minister Didiza is not following the clear OIE guidelines on what exactly needs to be done with any outbreak of FMD," said Masipa.
He alleged that, to date, the department had failed to:
- Disinfect all affected farms and vehicles in the affected regions;
- Create visible policing that monitored all movements of livestock-carrying vehicles in the province to ensure quarantine was enforced;
- Allocate a budget to fight the outbreak;
- Conduct routine inoculation, post the Vhembe District disease outbreak, because of a lack of vaccines and similar strains being found in the region
- Inform authorities to take all steps to protect the spread of the disease.
"The severity of this outbreak cannot be downplayed as the last outbreak of FMD in January 2019 resulted in a brief ban on South African wool and meat exports, which cost the economy in excess of R10 billion. We again call on the minister to take immediate action before it is too late," said Masipa.