DAFF failing livestock industry

The red meat and wool grower industries levelled serious accusations against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in parliament recently saying that the department was failing them and warned that legal action might be taken to force the department to do its job.

- Advertisement -

DAFF, the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) and the National Wool Growers’ Association (NWGA) made presentations to the Agriculture Portfolio Committee to discuss the registration of abattoirs in terms of the Meat Safety Act; control of foot and mouth disease; the importation of meat and animal products and stock theft.

Soon after the meeting started, members of the portfolio committee berated DAFF officials because they felt that the presentation given by the department was not detailed enough. ANC MP Salam Abram said that DAFF had failed “the people of South Africa miserably and in this case the livestock industry in particular.”

He expressed his disappointment with the presentation the department had brought to the meeting, saying that eight pages was not sufficient to deal with so many issues for an industry worth R25 billion a year. COPE MP Ngaba Bhanga reiterated Abram’s sentiments asking departmental officials to take the committee seriously in making a more detailed presentation.

- Advertisement -

During their presentation, representatives of RMIF said it was useless to deliberate any further with DAFF and had therefore solicited the assistance of lawyers. “Nothing is being done about the pressing issues on which the existence and operation of the industry depends,” said Advocate Hilton Epstein SC who delivered the presentation on behalf of the RMIF.
He said there were unregistered abattoirs in Limpopo, and pointed to the absence of a meat inspection unit which should have been introduced under the Meat Safety Act of 2000.

The RMIF also raised issues around permits issued for the importation of animals for various purposes. “We need a responsive engaging department which is willing to work with us to solve the problems facing the meat industry,” said Epstein. Harry Prinsloo of the NWGA said the biggest problem with the department of agriculture was promises being broken.

“The livestock industry suffers R1,3 billion in losses annually due to predation. We asked the department for assistance three years ago, but still no budget has been allocated,” said Prinsloo. DA MP Annette Steyn said the presentations given by the RMIF and the NWGA were clear proof that the department was not meeting its service delivery targets and she supported the RMIF decision to take legal action against DAFF.

Dr Mpho Maja, director of animal health for DAFF, requested that RMIF provide a list of the unregistered abattoirs it had referred to in its presentation, so they could follow up.