Livestock producers welcome planned compulsory service for new vets

South Africa’s established and emerging red meat producers have applauded a recently tabled bill that, if approved, will make it compulsory for newly qualified vets and para-veterinary professionals to engage in community service for 12 months.

- Advertisement -

It is hoped that this will help to mitigate the negative effect of the numerous vacancies within the government veterinary health service. “Vacancies in national and provincial government veterinary services are about 30 to 40%,” said Gerhard Schutte, CEO of the National Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO). “This is unacceptable and is a problem, given that the South African livestock industry is having major problems with animal health issues, such as foot-and-mouth disease. So we really welcome this bill.”

The RPO added that, while it was aware that compulsory service would likely only be implemented from 2014 if the bill was passed, it was pleased to hear that there are already vets and para-veterinary professionals who were soon to qualify who had volunteered to undertake community service during 2013. The RPO also praised the department of agriculture for making budgetary provision for the Compulsory Community Service (CCS) programme proposed by the bill.

Echoing many of the RPO’s sentiments, the National Emerging Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (Nerpo) added that it had long been calling for additional government vets to address the current shortfall in technical support for smallholder farmers.“There’s a dire need for information and assistance with basic animal healthcare, and it would be a relief to see significant strides to fulfil that,” said Nerpo CEO Dr Langelihle Simela.

- Advertisement -

The RPO and Nerpo said that, through the Animal Health Forum, which represents all stakeholders in the country’s extensive livestock production and processing sectors, they had contributed to proposals to the department of agriculture as to where the newly qualified vets and para-veterinary professionals could be deployed so as to meet the needs of these sectors.

Tabling the Veterinary and Para-veterinary Amendment Bill, 2012, in parliament recently, minister of agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the CCS programme would improve the delivery of veterinary services by regulating and managing the deployment of newly qualified professionals and address the currently skewed distribution of these professionals.