A farm is much more than land – De Jager

“It’s a hundred years since the passing of the Native Land Act – it’s crunch time – and we’re a few points behind,” said Theo de Jager, vice president of AgriSA,

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 at the first annual congress of the Wildlife Ranchers of South Africa (WRSA) at Castle de Wildt near Modimolle in Limpopo. De Jager said that this year farmers would get angry and frustrated as they experienced fundamental misunderstanding of their industry by policy makers.

“The strategy for the future needs to comprehend the thinking behind the new legislation, the nuts and bolts of the regulation.” “Commercial interest is our (farmers) interest, it is not the primary interest of the policy makers,” said De Jager.
Current political moves were strongly driven by the fact that this year marked the centenary of the 1913 Native Land Act and that national elections were looming in 2014. De Jager said that there was no defense for the 1913 Land Act and none would be offered, but that commercial farming was now an important and integral part of the SA economy.

“A farm is much more than the land it is on, a farm is a business involving investment, expertise and dedication,” said De Jager. He said many land beneficiaries of the land reform programme took over the land but lost the business. “The aim of SA farmers now must be to protect the sustainability of the industry – organised agriculture.”

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The core function of industry was to protect profit and sustainable operations and game farming was a very competitive agricultural industry. This year could see a new political onslaught on private owners who should look for innovative and creative solutions to make successful commercial farming work. De Jager said that constructive change was in the hands of individual farmers at a grassroots level. “Farmers can do nothing or they can engage.”