Agri unions differ on teamwork suggestion

Pro-Agri Forum has called for South Africa’s three main agricultural unions to work together in the best interests of the agricultural sector.

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But the proposal seems doomed to fail before talks have even started. While both TAU SA and the National African Farmers’ Union of SA (NAFU SA) are showing support for the idea, Agri SA is not. Pro-Agri Forum represents previous winners of the prestigious National Farmer of the Year Competition.

Agri SA deputy executive director Johan Pienaar explained his union’s reluctance by saying that Agri SA had previously made comprehensive proposals to other roleplayers representing South African agriculture, whereby a joint body would be established to formulate and monitor agricultural policy and related issues. Pienaar said TAU SA had rejected this proposal at the time and NAFU SA didn’t respond to it.

“The principle of cooperation has been propagated by Agri SA for a number of years,” Pienaar explained. “Given the lack of support for this external restructuring we have embarked on internal restructuring of our organisation on the same basis. The view of Pro-Agri Forum has thus already been fully entertained by Agri SA.”

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On the proposal, TAU SA spokesperson Chris van Zyl said his union would support any issue that is in the interest of its members and all other organisations representing the interests of South African farmers. NAFU SA president Joe Gondo said he supported the proposal, especially since a single, large, organised agricultural entity would likely be able to achieve more than three separate smaller voices.

Gondo said he expects a meeting will be held soon to put ideas on the table. He said he would like to hear these ideas before consulting with his union’s leadership for decision on the proposal.