SONA leaves agricultural issues unaddressed

Although President Zuma was clear in his State of the Nation Address that agriculture and rural development remain high on the government’s agenda, his reference to the need for dialogue with role players in the industry, especially in light of the recent labour unrest, is indicative of a lack of shared vision regarding the future of agriculture.

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His announcement of the reopening of the land claims process also prolong the uncertainty of the past 20 years regarding land ownership, which in turn will discourage investment in the industry and hamper meaningful transformation. It is also essential that any uncertainty regarding the interpretation and application of the Constitution’s provision regarding "fair and equitable" compensation for land that will be expropriated, be clarified.

Agri SA welcomes President Zuma’s strong stance against violence and criminal behaviour during protest actions and hopes that this would also apply to those found guilty of such conduct during the labour unrest in the Western Cape.

President Zuma once again committed government to develop policies within the framework of the National Development Plan. In this regard Agri SA looks forward to a better alignment of policy and practice with what is envisaged in the National Development Plan. The new minimum wage is an example of a policy choice that undermines the feasibility of the National Development Plan’s job creation objectives.

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In its dialogue with government, Agri SA will attend to measures that will support agricultural development and encourage investment in the industry. Aspects such as infrastructure development and the affordability of input prices that are fixed administratively will be determining factors. Obviously, a safe rural environment is also a prerequisite for investors’ confidence. In this regard, the speedy implementation of all facets of the Rural Safety Plan is also important.