New legislation on pig feed and environmental impact studies pose threats to the sustainability of pig farmers and especially emerging ones.
“Environmental impact studies need to be conducted to expand current operations. These are expensive, take time and pose a challenge, especially for emerging farmers,” said Prof Andre Louw, from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria.
Speaking recently at the conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa, Louw said that a new feed act could soon be implemented that will require veterinarians to supervise and sign off on feed mixed by the farmer. “Considering that 75% of all pork feed is mixed by the farmer, this has big cost implications.
State veterinarians are not paid very well so they are few, which means that a farmer needs to get a private veterinarian, and they are expensive. “This new act will be a big threat to the viability of the pork industry if instated and some kind of solution needs to be found,” Louw said.
Further threats to the pork industry include cheap imports and ‘dumping’ of pork on the South African market. “South African producers can’t produce at the same prices as subsidised producers in other countries.”
“The free trade agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) members means that exporting countries now have a passage to SADC members other than South Africa and those pork imports can find their way to the South African consumer.”
Louw said that there is a lack of efficient government support regarding the international trade and importing of pork.
“This remains a major weakness of the industry.” He added that the regulation of the spread of diseases is becoming more difficult with an open border policy.
Weak demand for pork meat, especially during the recent swine flu epidemic, was also cited as a challenge to pork producers. But Louw’s research indicates that global pork production will increase annually by 3,5% to reach 5,7 million tons of pork produced annually by 2018.
Louw said that although South Africa is a relatively small producer compared to the US and Europe, there are opportunities to exploit new markets and trade partners in imports from the US and exports to African countries. “Projections are that Japan will import around 7% more in 2017 than in 2008. South Korea’s imports for the same period will increase by more than 15% and South Africa’s imports will increase by 8%,” he concluded. – Lindi van Rooyen