Little support from DAFF for commercial farmers

During a recent presentation in parliament, Agri SA legal advisor Annelize Crosby said that commercial farmers in drought-stricken provinces had reported no or very little support from government departments.

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Agri SA met with government on several occasions to discuss greater cooperation between the state and organised agriculture to mitigate the impact of the drought.

But, this had not resulted in any specific collaborative actions, according to Crosby.

“State support for emerging farmers only is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Commercial farmers are taxpayers and employ many workers, and should also be assisted,” Crosby said.

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Deputy executive director of Agri SA, Christo van der Rheede agreed, adding that government should trust organised agriculture and realise that it wanted to assist the people of South Africa in order to take the country forward.

“The government should stop trying to divide us into camps, because it only brings unnecessary dissension among South Africans,” said Van der Rheede.

At this year’s Agri Mega Week approximately R100 000 had been raised to go towards the Agri SA drought relief fund. The event was organised by Teresa Labuschagne, a consultant involved with the expo. She proposed an Agri SA Drought Relief Fund event during the Agri Mega Week where people from the business world could contribute towards the fund and help alleviate the plight of farmers.

The fund, created to assist drought-stricken farmers and communities that depended on farming around the country, was currently R17 million strong, according to van der Rheede.

“South African farmers are still facing huge battles. Although some areas enjoyed good rains, it is important to remember that it does not rain fodder. The problems and challenges these farmers face have not yet been solved,” Van der Rheede said.

The fund also assists farmers by purchasing and transporting fodder for livestock, buying and distributing food hampers to destitute farm workers, as well as the distribution of water and sinking of boreholes in areas with little or no water.