The outbreak of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) identified in Limpopo, Molemole District has come at a worse time for the red meat industry.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Land Reform (DALRRD), veterinary services were alerted to clinal signs suspicious for FMD in a herd of cattle on a farm.
The Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) CEO Gerhard Schutte seemed not impressed by the outbreak. “After the outbreak in January 2019, hard work has been done to recover South Africa’s status as an FMD free zone. The latest development is a setback. It is imperative that the extent of the problem be determined on an urgent basis.”
The industry is expected to feel the effects of this outbreak. According to the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), the FMD stood to benefit other red meat exporting countries.
“The recent findings of FMD outbreak in Molemole district might result in countries like China to reimpose the import ban of beef and other colven-hoofed animal products.”
In July 2019, China lifted South Africa’s ban on exports of products from clove hoofed animals. Earlier during the year, South Africa lost its World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised FMD free zone without vaccination status.
China was prompted to also ban wool imports from South Africa as a result of the FMD. Cape Wools SA has confirmed in a statement that the current outbreak of FMD did not affect the export of its wool to China.
The industry said it placed biosecurity measures which were acceptable to GACC in China, “as well as the renegotiated health certificates, makes provision for FMD inactivation as required in terms of the OIE Terrestrial Code.”
For the red meat industry, there was a possibility of being flagged again by the OIE. “The outbreak once again underlines the urgent need for the establishment of a traceability system in the livestock industry. More focus must also be placed on the establishment of compartments in terms of animal diseases in order to prevent the suspension of international trade when a FMD outbreak occurs in only an isolated area” said Gerhard Schutte.
NAMC was fearful that the red meat industry could lose significant market share in favour of Namibia “as it already supplies the biggest portion of live animals in the region.”
South African farmers were cautioned to observe bio-security measures – not to allow any new animals into their herds and to miminize the movement of their own herds to other farms.