‘Dysfunctional government fails agri industry’ – union

Agriculture union TLU SA Eastern Cape has blamed ‘dysfunctional government’ for the poor performance of the agriculture industry.

Chairman Johan Steyn says government has failed to convince the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of South Africa’s foot-and-mouth free status.

“According to our information, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform was scheduled to deliver two presentations to the OIE,” he said.

“The objective of these presentations was to reinstate the country’s foot-and-mouth free status. At the first presentation, the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) refused to release the serological test results because the Department of Agriculture owes them money.  At the second presentation, Onderstepoort could perform no tests as samples had not been received from Limpopo Province.  Provincial technicians refused to take the cattle samples as they are not paid overtime to do the sampling.”

Steyn points out that the continuing ban on the export of live breeding animals, game and meat has brought all export trade in these products to a grinding halt.  In addition, the wool price has plummeted by around 40% over the past year with storage facilities filled to capacity with wool that cannot be exported, he says. 

He says it is absurd and unacceptable that the survival of the largest agricultural sector in South Africa, namely livestock, hangs in the balance thanks to a dysfunctional government and its incapable officials. 

“The livestock industry makes a significant contribution to state coffers.  It earns valuable foreign exchange through the export of wool, hides, meat, game and breeding stock. The export of practically all these products is forbidden since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease earlier this year. The livestock industry is one of the largest markets for maize in the form of animal feed.  In addition, the survival of companies supplying veterinary medicines, animal feed, livestock handling equipment and transport are all dependent upon the well-being of the livestock sector.”

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