New Year messages

2012 has brought many challenges to the farming community and many of the problems will continue into 2013. Some agricultural union presidents share their messages of hope for farmers.

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Agri SA president, Johannes Möller

The year 2012 was a dynamic one, to say the least, with various demands being made on farmers from especially the political and policy environment. Undoubtedly we will be entering 2013 with a lot of issues creating uncertainty which will require the undivided attention of the whole of organised agriculture. Land and labour matters are still largely unresolved and Agri SA will continue to address these and related matters within the confines of the law and the Constitution of South Africa in particular.  

Farmers were also directly and indirectly confronted by structural problems in the economy during 2012. The cost of doing business in South Africa is notoriously high, administered prices in relation to especially electricity and water continue to negatively influence the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and the country. Undoubtedly these matters will also require focused attention in 2013.

"It remains the duty and privilege of everybody involved in agriculture to promote the positive characteristics of the sector. Despite climatic uncertainties, the country is still food secure, a reality that needs to be conveyed to especially the urban population and policymakers. For this very reason Agri SA participated in policy conferences of the ruling party, the latest one having taken place in Mangaung at the end of 2012.

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Agriculture and rural communities, including farm workers, are intertwined and dependent on a viable agricultural sector for their livelihood. With a view to improving the productive utilisation of land, especially that having been transferred for land reform purposes, I once again call on all farmers and commodity organisations to enhance the symbiotic relationship between small-scale and commercial farmers and to especially use the opportunity to develop new farmers.

Agri SA noticed the important role assigned to the agricultural sector in the National Development Plan recently approved by parliament. This will form an important part of the work programme of Agri SA in 2013 and also of the Agri-Sector Unity Forum launched in 2012, consisting of a number of stakeholders. Co-operation among agricultural organisations is in an infant phase but nonetheless an important matter that will be further pursued in 2013.

Despite the uncertainty of the future we as a farming community will continue to plan and operate on the basis of doing the right things right and to manage setbacks to the best of our ability. I wish to thank the farming community and related stakeholders for their loyal support of our organisation and me personally during 2012 and I trust that this sound working relationship will continue in 2013. I also wish to express my appreciation to various political office bearers with whom we engage on a continuous basis on critical policy matters. I also wish them well in dealing with the serious challenges our country faces. To my fellow farmers, may you experience a prosperous 2013."

AFASA president, Mike Mlengana

"I would like to wish every member of the African Farmers Association of South Africa and all of the farming community a prosperous New Year. Farmers have conquered numerous challenges this past year. As Afasa we will continue to fight  towards empowering our farmers. In just one year of operation the association has achieved several key milestones it had set itself. And we would like to continue doing so in the new year.

We wish farmers a happy New Year filled with hope that they are going to achieve their objectives. Training is a process that leads to self-reliance. So we urge our farmers to keep attending the association’s training and workshops in the next year.  We would like to see farmers redefining Afasa’s future and leave a legacy for the next generation. We must make the right decisions now so that we leave a proper foundation for the generations to come. I believe that with the quality of membership we currently have, we will achieve these objectives."

NAFU SA president, Motsepe Matlala  

"Nafu SA looks back with a considerable amount of pride on the past 10 months since the historic AGM held at Richards Bay on the 28th January 2012, at which the new leadership was elected. They worked tirelessly to consolidate and unite the divided members of the union. This has proved to be an enormous challenge, which would not have been possible without the support of members of the Nafu SA Executive Committee and the members of the Federal Council. 

We are confident in our commitment and resolve to rebuild Nafu SA into a formidable union of emerging farmers. Our forthcoming Federal Council and Summit will showcase the tremendous strides taken by the newly elected leadership.  Nafu SA successfully completed its strategic plan, and provinces are expected to debate and adopt the proposed amendments to founding documents; the new vision, mission and strategic objectives of the union; as well as the annual business plan, incorporating operational plans aligned with the annual budget.

We believe that this will provide for the implementation of programmes and projects for the ultimate benefit of the emerging farmer. The new year will herald in a new, robust Nafu SA, which will be rolling out various projects. Initiatives aimed at strengthening partnerships with fraternal organisations have culminated in the signing of a number of agreements with international partners.

We have prioritised exploring different revenue streams to ensure the union’s long-term financial sustainability. To achieve the success of the various programmes outlined above, we will need the active support of the leadership and members of Nafu SA. We appeal to all our members within the provinces, within the Federal Council and within the executive committee of Nafu SA to re-dedicate themselves to re-building the association so that we can once more claim our rightful place as the leading voice of emerging farmers in South Africa and beyond. Nafu SA would like to wish all farmers in SA a safe festive season and a prosperous New Year."

TAU SA president, Louis Meintjes

"When I was asked to write a New Year’s message, it was during the labour unrest in the Western Cape with a deadline for 4 December. The notices for the re-assessment of the minimum wages by the labour minister was published and the public hearings were set for input from affected parties. Agriculture was in turmoil. The trade unions were looking at farmers for a way out of the unrealistic promise of a R150 per day wage.

 Added to that, we had the uncertainty of Mangaung and politicians trying to gain points by making absurd politicalstatements far from the economic reality.  Minister of agriculture Tina Joemat-Petterson in particular, with her wildcard statements, showed why criticism against her was well-founded. The further reality is that 40 farmers were murdered during 2012 with 117 incidents of violent crime on farms. Since 1990 we had 1 593 farm murders and 2 864 farm attacks.
With all this in mind, my message for 2013:

To the farmers: We are dependent on one another and we need to work together as a collective, especially during this time of turmoil. We need to minimise our dependency on labour by mechanising as far as possible. We can no longer run the risk of accommodating our labour force on our farms. It is not our responsibility to solve the socio-economic problems – it is the responsibility of government. TAU SA will pressurise it to fulfil its responsibilities and supply housing and services and all that is needed for farm workers in formal townships. We should continue to treat our employees fairly and with respect.

To the workers and potential workers: We want the best for you and we value your services. However, the agricultural sector is the only one in the national economy where employees live at their places of employment and if this package is not what you expected, you are free to find better work for better pay in other sectors. If you are not satisfied with what you get, do not burn down our crops and assets. We value our property, the fruits of our labour and investments whilst we are feeding the population.

To government: Get rid of corruption and start to deliver services to the poor people in the country as you should. We will resist all your efforts to get us off our land that we own legally.

To the people of South Africa: Enjoy the quality produce of our farmers and support us in our efforts to produce food for all in South Africa. When all is said and done, farmers face challenges ranging from violent crime to ever-increasing input costs. Such challenges are in fact similar to what our forefathers experienced, and which they managed with perseverance and with faith. We put our trust in God Almighty."