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General Information and News Monitoring

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Loss of FMD-free status devastating for SA’s trade

The Mercury 22 January 2019

The Limpopo Animal Health Forum (LAHF), with the national industry organisations for red meat producers, will be hosting a foot and mouth disease (FMD) information day in support of the Government’s efforts to manage the effects and spill over of the disease outside the controlled zone.

Event organisers say the goal of the information day is to inform all parties about the planned management procedures and responsibilities of each role player on the road to recovering South Africa’s export status.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that it had been informed of positive laboratory results for FMD and that the Vhembe district of Limpopo had been quarantined. Samples were collected during a disease investigation after reports of cattle with lameness were received. The positive location is just outside the FMD control zone in the free zone without vaccination.

It is in the high surveillance area of the FMD free zone. The matter was reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on January 7.

The official OIE-recognised FMD free status of South Africa has been suspended. Any exports where FMD free zone attestation is required cannot be certified. The department said the impact on trade had been devastating.

The Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) said concerned parties were invited to attend the information day this week at Adam’s Apple Hotel and Conference Centre.

“Our message to consumers remains: the meat in shop fridges is as safe as always,” said the organisation.

“Feed and maize prices have escalated and consumers’ purchasing power is under pressure. This is in the middle of a herd rebuilding phase after the 2016 drought. These factors represent a challenge to the mission of the RPO, which is based on the facilitation of a competitive and sustainable red meat environment for the producer,” said organisation chairperson Koos van der Ryst.

“All indications point to the fact that most of South Africa’s trade partners are not going to accept meat imports from the country.

“Accordingly, we must accept that the estimated 4.02% beef and 0.69% sheep meat ear-marked for exports will be taken up in the local market. This may result in consumer prices moving sideways and even downwards. This scenario will obviously be catastrophic for producers,” he said.

The organisation said the loss of South Africa’s FMD free zone status was caused by only two animals that had tested positive for the disease outside the free zone. Signs of disease may include depressed animals, sores in animals’ mouth causing reluctance to eat, and lameness.

Any suspected case of the disease must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately.