Foot and Mouth Disease crisis needs to be gazetted, in order to save jobs, unlock funds and resources to prevent a national disaster
It has now been estimated that close to 20 000 herd have been affected at five commercial farms due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Limpopo. The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DARDLR) reluctance to effectively deal with this outbreak has caused large scale confusion and havoc, especially in light of its decision to impose a moratorium on livestock auctions in unaffected provinces such as Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) thus calls on the immediate gazetting of the FMD crisis, so that the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, Angela Thoko Didiza, can unlock the funding and resources needed to empower the agricultural sector to manage this outbreak, and to ensure that it does not become a disaster across every single province.
By allocating increased funding and resources to the FMD outbreak, we can empower officials, police and the relevant agricultural personnel to better monitor procedures relating to the transport of animals in affected zones and provinces. With increased resources, we can ensure that infected animals in FMD outbreak zones aren’t moved into non-affected zones.
There is no doubt that an increase in logistical resources will result in the prevention of an uncontrolled spread of FMD throughout the country. Furthermore, it will prevent the red-meat industry from being prone to illicit sales of cattle or meat on the black market.
Furthermore, the DA has long maintained that the DARDLR should also implement the following steps immediately to contain the current outbreak and to prevent any future outbreaks:
1. Declare the affected farms red-zone areas to ensure that the infected livestock are treated and limit the movement of livestock in cordoned off areas.
2. Facilitate cooperation between the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and its affiliate Onderstepoort Biological Product (OBP) to ensure more efficient post-outbreak management protocols, which include testing, vaccination and general management of cordoned off areas.
3. Launch a full-scale investigation into the continued outbreak of FMD in Limpopo.
4. Expedite and prioritise the completion of the dedicated FMD facility tasked with developing FMD vaccines.
Government simply cannot afford to sit on its hands as South Africa’s livestock industry becomes increasingly vulnerable to the sporadic outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. Reports today allege that even President Cyril Ramaphosa himself has had to retrench 20 workers on his farm, as a result of FMD. The severity of this outbreak needs to be taken seriously and control measures need to be put in place with additional support, resources and funding.
The last outbreak of FMD in January 2019 resulted in a brief ban on South African wool and meat exports which cost the economy in excess of R10 billion. Our economy simply cannot afford this loss in revenue given its vulnerable state.
The DA implores upon National Government to take the necessary and decisive steps to address this current outbreak by gazetting this issue, in order to ensure we are able to empower the agricultural sector and affected zones to control any further spread of FMD.
Statement issued by Noko Masipa MP - DA Member of the Portfolio Committee of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, 27 November 2019