Grain has resolved not to support the adjustments to the draft AgriBEE charter proposed by land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana.
In December last year Xingwana revised the annual turnover threshold for exemption from AgriBEE obligations from R5 million, as proposed by Grain SA, to R1,5 million and increased the equity target to 30% in agriculture, whereas the rest of the economy has to commit to a target of 25%.
Grain SA vice-president Louw Steytler said these “unrealistic” proposals would further exacerbate tensions between Xingwana and organised agriculture and he advised grain producers to resort to the generic Codes for Good Practice as determined by the Department of Trade and Industry if the discrepancies between the Codes for Good Practice and the AgriBEE document are too large and unattainable.
Grain SA also called on the agriculture and land affairs department to start focusing on the real issues inhibiting the successful entry of new farmers to commercial grain production. These, according to Jenny Matthews, the organisation’s national executive chairperson and chairperson of the Farmers’ Development Programme, include the impact of land claims, theft, poor infrastructure and lack of government support in the form of knowledgeable extension officers. “We need government to deliver solutions which will assist the transformation process.” The lack of protection for new farmers was identified as another obstacle to land reform. “What if there is a drought or some other act of God which prevents profitable production? How will such a farmer be able to repay his loan and how are agribusinesses supposed to position themselves to take such risks?” Matthews asked.