The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Animal auction ban hits hard – Foot-and mouth clampdown ‘catastrophic’

The Witness

17 Dec 2019


KZN cattle farmers who had been looking forward to a bumper festive season, now face a bleak Christmas following government’s national moratorium on livestock auctions imposed to curb an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Limpopo.

The moratorium, which is effective in all nine provinces, has had a catastrophic impact on small scale and communal farmers, butcheries and braai-meat outlets.

Pietermaritzburg-based Karen Melouney, owner of AAM Livestock Agents and Auctioneers (AAM), which facilitates the sale of more than 2 000 cattle a week, said business had gone down by 90% since the moratorium was announced earlier this month.

“Most small scale farmers who have been planning to sell their animals during the festive period are now in financial distress.

“People in the shisa nyama [braai] business will struggle to get stock, individuals in the stokvel business will struggle to get meat and people from rural areas planning to use the money from cattle sales to send their kids to school next year will be affected. The timing of the moratorium is terrible,” she said.

The red meat sector in the province suddenly found itself in turmoil following the decision by the minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to ban the auctioning of livestock.

This was after veterinarians detected foot-and-mouth disease in several herds of cattle in Molemole district in Limpopo province.

As a precautionary measure, Didiza resolved to extend the ban to all nine provinces.

The chairperson of the Underberg Farmers Association, Guy Taylor, said the ban was yet to affect the association’s members, but that the moratorium will have a devastating impact on future animal sales.

“Our next auction was supposed to be in January, but with the moratorium now in place it means that the auction will no longer take place.

“As from January our members will have to sell to individual abattoirs and meat processors at lower prices than they would get from auctions. Given that the ban also affects meat exports,

demand for animals is likely to be constrained, further affecting the price of the animals,” he said.

However, despite the majority of farmers and auctioneers in the province bleeding as a result of the ban, William Rorich, founder of Go Livestock, said his business had not been affected by the ban. “We are an online business and the ban does not in any way stop people from buying cattle online. So, for us nothing has changed,” he said.

Jannie Joubert, manager at the Durban-based auctioneers Hyper Goats, said the business would not be affected by the ban as the goats it trades in are imported. “Our goats are imported from Namibia and the ban is only on local livestock,” he said.

DA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson on agriculture, Chris Pappas, said “there would have been no need for the ban had the department reacted on time and quarantined the source (the farm in Molemole District in Limpopo province) immediately after veterinarians detected the foot-and-mouth disease in the area.

“The DA calls on minister Thoko Didiza to immediately lift this moratorium and release funding to support the sector in fighting the disease,” he said.

“Most small scale farmers who have been planning to sell their animals during the festive period are now in financial distress.