The Federation of Livestock Auctioneers/Agents (SAFLA) is planning to appeal against the planned suspension of live auctions by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD).
This comes after DALRRD issued a strong directive on the suspension of live auctions in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West provinces with the ultimate decision to gazette the notice.
“We are of opinion that the joint statement was not fully considered with all the negative consequences to the livestock industry and the affected auction houses. Secondly, we do not know who represented the livestock industry when the decision was made without the consensus of the livestock industry” said Chairperson of SAFLA Johan Minaar.
Livestock farmers were of the opinion that this too could jeopardize their revenue collection as most depended on these live auctions.
“It is festive season, a season in which most of us emerging livestock farmers look forward to make huge returns. Shutting down live auctions at this time was calling for a revolt” said emerging livestock Joseph Matsho.
SAFLA said the decision by the government will affect price stability. The determined prices at auctions served as a guide for the farmers to set a value on their livestock for future business with auction houses or direct sales.
“The decision as it stands will have an enormous negative financial impact to the auction houses. At the auction there are willing buyers and willing sellers where upon a price is fixed” said Minnaar.
The costs of FMD are projected to run into billions. In 2011, the red meat industry reported that FMD outbreak broke into R6 billion.
According to the Agricultural Research Council, FMD in Africa was influenced by two different patterns; a cycle involving wildlife, in particular the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and an independent cycle maintained within livestock.
The Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO) Chairman Koos van der Ryst said it recognised the urgency to control the new outbreak however “stopping auctions over such a large area will not contribute to solving the problem, but will aggravate it.”
This was the second outbreak in the same area which left much speculation as to whether the department was in full control of the FMD.
“They should have focused on the contaminated area, stopped the movement of all animals out of the specific area by means of road blocks. There is already a task team represented by the industry that should have assisted DAFF in making the right decisions.” said SAFLA Minnaar.
However, there were concerns within the rural livestock community that the FMD issue was used by organised red meat industry as a nexus to steer government to conduct traceability of rural animals.
“I would agree, since 2014, organised red meat industry has been calling on tracking of animals. We should be then asking ourselves whose animals will be traced, by who and for what purpose?” added Matsho.
Matsho believed that consultations with DARRLD on the FMD issue should include all stakeholders than established red meat organisations only. “The Minister should meet all of us and not just a few otherwise we will have a Livestock Master Plan in our hands”
SAFLA seemed concerned that the planned gazette solely focussed on auctions market. It believed that punishing the livestock auction industry for the outbreak was bizarre and devoid of reason.
“The two main functions of livestock auctions are to create a market for the livestock producers and secondly to help set a market price for livestock for that area” said Minnaar.
DALRRD declined to comment before going to print.