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Bid to Lift Livestock Auction Ban

Emerging farmers turn to high court to fight foot-and-mouth control measures

The Mercury

16 Jan 2020

LISA ISAACS

AN APPLICATION by a group of emerging farmers to lift a national ban on livestock auctions has been remanded for an urgent date.

The farmers took the matter to the North Gauteng High Court, after the ban was implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development last year when foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was detected in Limpopo.

The application is for an urgent interim order declaring that the applicants be allowed to proceed with auctions in their respective areas of business outside Limpopo, pending the finalisation of veterinary investigations and implementation of control measures.

Last week, the National Red Meat Producers Organisation said the situation was “untenable” and put a damper on the red meat industry, prohibited normal price forming mechanisms, and had a negative impact on commercial and emerging producers.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, meanwhile, said that four further cases of FMD had been reported since mid-December – three in December and one case reported in the first week of this month.

The total number of confirmed positive locations has risen to 15.

“More than 130 points were identified with possible links to specific auctions and known affected properties. Follow-up investigations and collection of samples were already performed on 95 of these points and precautionary quarantine has been lifted on 44 properties that have been proven negative for FMD.

“All properties where the disease has been confirmed have been placed under quarantine and cloven-hoofed animals are not allowed to move off the quarantined properties. Guidelines and application procedures have been finalised for animals on FMD quarantined properties to undergo early slaughter at designated abattoirs with specific conditions to prevent the spread of FMD.

“FMD does not affect people, therefore meat and milk from infected livestock is safe for human consumption,” the department said.

The prohibition on the gathering of cloven hoofed animals from two or more properties resulted after veterinary authorities identified that the short-term congregation and redistribution of cloven-hoofed animals played an integral part in the spread of the disease in this outbreak, as all the affected properties had been linked directly or indirectly to auctions.

“In order to bring normality to the trade of livestock, the Department and the FMD Technical Task Team urge all auctioneers to register with the Agricultural Produce Agents Council. This is a legal requirement and auctioneers must comply with the conditions laid down in the Agricultural Produce Agents Act, 1992. Additional biosecurity measures to be applied by registered auctioneers are under discussion and will be communicated as soon as finalised.

“The Department encourages livestock owners to limit the movement of cloven hoofed animals until the extent of the outbreak has been fully determined,” the department said.