FMD: Ban on movement of cattle has serious repercussions – RPO

Organisation says it is clear that a totally new strategy is needed in order to control the disease

RPO reacts on the ban on the movement of cattle

19 August 2022

The RPO took note of the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza on 16 August that all movement of cattle is suspended for an initial period of 21 days with the option to extend it.

The announcement has a very serious impact on the red meat value chain. However, it must be remembered that a turnaround strategy is needed, which probably became necessary due to the fact that in the last two weeks there were 15 new outbreaks and two additional provinces were affected.

The measures not only have a serious impact on the commercial sector, but impact almost more seriously on the developing sector as 1.2 million households own livestock and depend on it for income and food security.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a controlled disease for which the state has responsibility, whether at national, provincial or local level. The decision announced by the Minister is probably a decision to combat the spread of the virus and therefore has a serious impact on the value chain. This was not a value chain decision.

Self-regulation is now extremely essential and the RPO supports it. The RPO also requests that in the process of self-regulation, the national and provincial animal health forums as well as the national and provincial livestock theft prevention forums will be acknowledged and that they will be cooperated with.

The red meat industry will have to provide proof to our trading partners that we are successful in achieving a turnaround strategy, otherwise our trade will be further harmed in terms of exports.

It is also clear that we will have to follow a totally new strategy in order to control the disease. The RPO is of the opinion that South Africa will have to reconsider its status as a country without vaccination and that there will probably have to be a move to a country with limited vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease. The implication of this is that South Africa will have to start producing its own vaccines and that the free market will have to play an important role in the production of these vaccines. It is also essential that the laboratory and testing capacity must be expanded and in this regard the private sector will once again have to play a major role.

The control measures on the movement of cattle will have to be applied very strictly by the authorities as this is the beginning of the turnaround strategy. The RPO will provide its full cooperation to ensure that the turnaround strategy is successful and that it will be limited to a period of 21 days.

We as producers of beef will have to do everything in our power to ensure that the 21 day period does not seriously impact the supply process of beef in the value chain.

It is also important to note that FMD has no impact on human health. This is a disease that only affects international trade in animals and animal products.

The RPO’s vision until 2030 is that there is great potential to grow the local industry. The red meat industry is the sleeping giant of agriculture in South Africa and we can achieve inclusive growth by growing exports from 5% to 20%, but then we have to convince our trading partners that foot-and-mouth disease is under control. It is therefore essential that the turnaround strategy will be successful.

Issued by James Faber, Chairman, RPO, 19 August 2022