FMD Outbreak, industry calls for traceability measures

Since the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, on the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the red meat industry was demanding action.

An outbreak of FMD detected in March 2022 around Potchefstroom, North West was a precursor for the red meat industry to strongly call for the imposition of traceability measures. 

The continued outbreaks have been met with suspicion by the National Animal Health Forum, saying it was akin to ‘industrial sabotage.’ 

NAHF demanded ‘very drastic measures’ to be taken against the guilty individuals.

“It seems that this outbreak is once again the result of the possible illegal movement of cattle from/out of the affected areas” it said. Based on this growing culture of illegal movement of cattle, the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), said it was becoming essential for the industry to self-regulate and keep the movement of livestock to a minimum. 

“The outbreak is far removed from the traditional foot and mouth disease endemic areas and could have a drastic impact on the livestock industry if not handled properly,” said Mr James Faber, Chairman of the national RPO.

Some leading beef and meat producers or companies, have joined the chorus, for there to be an establishment of proper traceability structures and biosecurity measures. 

The push for animal traceability is all to know the origin of cattle, which according to many scholars is a significant determining factor about the health status of cattle, to also ensure consumers are exposed to quality meat products. NAHF said the time was ripe for farmers to implement voluntary traceability systems and for farmers to familiarise themselves with the clinical symptoms of FMD. 

In 2019, the outbreak of FMD reportedly cost the red meat industry close to R9 billion, with nearly half a million jobs on the line. The Task Team on FMD appointed by Minister Thoko Didiza had already begun constructing traceability measures. 

Since the outbreak, all buyers of livestock should ensure they receive an an attestation from the seller, to confirm the health status of the animals they are buying.  “Should any suspicious clinical symptoms (salivation, blisters in the mouth, limping or hoof lesions) be seen, it should be reported to the local State Veterinarian immediately and such animals must not be moved under any circumstances.”

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