Newsletter February 2016

Newsletter February 2016

   

    

   

 

 

 


 

About 2000 farmers under serious financial pressure

According to Agri SA’s recent report on the drought, about 2000 farmers are currently experiencing serious financial pressure. Without assistance these farmers will not be able to access credit to produce in the coming season. Free State Agriculture (FSA) took part in Agri SA’s report by means of our drought need assessment forms, and were praised for the detailed information we supplied.  

A total of 897 000 farm workers work on the country’s farms. According to the report it is expected that the farmers who are under pressure will not be able to fully pay up to 120 000 workers. One of Agri SA’s recommendations in their report as well as part of the National Drought Task Team is to request assistance from government by means of a subsidy of half of these workers’ salaries (R1330 per month).  

A total of 27% of Agri SA’s affiliations’ members indicated that they are currently seriously considering layoffs, while it is only a possible consideration for 23%. The remaining 50% of members are not looking at layoffs.

Agri SA’s report as well as the National Drought Task Team’s report is available for our members here. (Remember, you need your membership number as username and password to see the reports.) 

By means of the reports government was requested to assist the sector with R12 billion worth of financing. Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance, indicated in his budget speech that R1 billion will be redistributed from the 2015/16 financial year for drought initiatives. He further indicated that more funds will be made available in the 2016/17 financial year.

Agri SA’s comment on the budget speech is available here.

 


 

Applications for drought assistance 

Free State Agriculture (FSA) wants to explain the process whereby our structures distribute feed for drought assistance to farmers and farmer’s associations. A very detailed and transparent process, that includes proper recording of facts, must be followed to enable us to approach role players for funds, water, feed and humanitarian assistance on an ongoing basis. FSA’s Disaster Fund, as well as the funds we receive from Agri SA’s Drought Relief Fund, are managed very strictly.   

Application forms are available from all farmer’s associations, and a farmer’s application must be handed in to FSA by the farmer’s association. (Read more.)

The application must then be approved by FSA’s structures, after which feed must be sourced and funds must be organised for the transport there off. FSA communicates with all farmer’s associations on an ongoing basis, requesting that all possible applications must be communicated to FSA as soon as possible. Forms can be handed in to the office every Wednesday by 12:00, and they must be filled out as indicated.  

We invite our members to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages where we regularly share information of where feed that was facilitated by our structures, was delivered. Our deepest gratitude to all who form part of these efforts as well as for the feed and transport donated.  


 

Advice to farmers during the drought 

Many experts have compiled reports to assist farmers with advice during the drought as well as on how to reboot their farming enterprises after the drought. Most of the reports currently focus on stock farming and how to manage your herd optimally during this trying time.  

We would like to invite our farmers to read Prof. HO de Waal and Prof Hennie Snyman’s advice. Four articles or reports are available here.

Remember, you need your membership number as username and password to be able to read these documents. 


 

Livestock Reduction Scheme

We would like to remind our members about the documentation for the Land Bank’s Live Stock Reduction Scheme that is available on our website. Application forms for the scheme as well as the rules are available under Rampe & Noodhulp on our website.

For our members, you need your membership number as your username and password to access the forms. Click here for the forms. 


 

Expropriation Bill and land ownership ceilings 

Expropriation legislation and statements with regards to land ownership ceilings by Pres. Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address have ensured many a headline during February 2016. On 2 February 2016 the Expropriation Bill was submitted to the National Assembly for consideration after months of deliberation by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works.

Although Agri SA is concerned about some of the amendments that have been made to the bill, like the proposed definition for “expropriation”, the organisation says other amendments are positive.  One such amendment is that in calculating compensation, the trauma caused by the property being taken without consent can now be factored in if there are good reasons to do so. 

You are welcome to read more on what Agri SA has to say on this here. (Please remember that you need your membership number as username and password to sign in to the closed part of our website.) 

FSA would also like to share some articles with our members about the bill and what they need to know. 

Agri SA also reacted sharply on Pres. Jacob Zuma’s statements on land ceilings during his State of the Nation Address on 11 February 2016. Read more here.

 


 

Possible assistance for farmers with regards to the drought and minimum wages 

Since the start of 2016, Free State Agriculture (FSA) has met with the Department of Labour twice about the drought and the impact it will have on farmers and farm workers. A representative of the CCMA was also present at the second meeting. Occupational safety was also discussed.  

During the meetings it was indicated that a so called “lay-off scheme” exists for which land owners can apply. FSA’s office and/or the CCMA can be contacted in this regard.

With regards to occupational safety the department informed us that the most deaths due to accidents in the Free State occur in the agriculture sector. We would like to again request our members to ensure that all documentation and processes are in place should an incident occur on your farm. Most cases occur where tractor PTO’s are not properly secured.

Further the department is of the opinion that a decision on the national minimum wage will not be taken in the immediate future, as too many unresolved issues still have to be attended to.  

We would also like to remind our members of the increase in minimum wages that is in place from 1 March 2016. 

      

More information on the new minimum wage is available here.


 

Young Farmer Conference 2016

      

Free State Agriculture’s (FSA) Young Farmer Committee would like to invite all its members to its annual conference on 21 April 2016 at Monte Bello in Bloemfontein. This year’s theme will focus on the economy and technology, as well as on inspiring our members amidst the severe drought that is affecting the province. The main speaker at the event is Pieter Geldenhuys, futurist, future driven, innovation and technology strategist and director of the Institute for Technology Strategy and Innovation that is also involved with the North West University (NWU).  

The conference will start at 13h00 (registration from 11h30), and the FSA Young Farmer of the Year function will also take place at Monte Bello at 18h30 that evening. 

The registration form for our members is available here


 

2016 FSA regional meetings  

Free State Agriculture’s (FSA) regional meetings, with Nedbank as main sponsor, will take place in all our even numbered regions. The 2015/16 season has offered many unique and difficult challenges to farmers, and we want to invite all our members to attend the meetings to share their thoughts and questions with us.

Prof. Johan Willemse will take part in the meetings again, by inter alia sharing practical tips about how to keep cash flow going and balance sheets in shape during the drought as well as during the time of recovery. 

We would like to share the dates we already have for meetings:

REGIONAL MEETINGS 2016

   
           

DATE

REGION

VENUE

 

TIME

 

13 April

18

Perdeberg

 

16:00

 

14 April

12, 13

Dealesville

 

09:00

 

19 April

10

Virginia

 

10:00

 

28 April

5

Harrismith

 

11:00

 

 

 


 

Vehicle and driver licence renewals

The Department of Transport halted all notices for vehicle licence renewals without warning. This has led to many vehicle owners been fined for applying for renewals late. Although the department has been sending out notices in this regard for a very long time, legislation determines the onus is still on vehicle owners to ensure that a vehicle licence is renewed in time.  

Free State Agriculture (FSA) would thus like to encourage our members to note their licence renewal dates in their diaries, so that they can remain informed about when it should be renewed. Also remember to have all documentation on hand when you visit the licencing offices.

Since the last quarter of 2015 everyone who renews licences, vehicle or driver’s licences, have to present a proof of residence before they can pay for the renewal. We would like to remind our members to ensure that they have the right amount of cash on hand to pay, as many rural licencing offices do not have card facilities available.  

The issue of notices for licence renewal as well as the department’s suspension of the use of their yellow fleet to maintain roads are being taken up with government provincially and nationally. The yellow fleet’s services were apparently suspended due to budget restraints until April 2016. We will keep you informed on the situation.  


 

Special dispensation for Lesotho

The special dispensation for Lesotho citizens was approved by cabinet in October 2015. The main objective for the dispensation is to regulate Lesotho citizens who are currently illegally living, working, studying or managing businesses in South Africa. The permit will be in place from 1 February 2016, after which the application process will also start. A permit will be valid for 4 years.  

Lesotho citizens must be registered on their country’s National Population Register (NPR) before they can receive such a permit. They can apply online or in person. Online applications open on 1 March 2016 and the last date for personal applications will be 30 June 2016. A call centre will also be in place from 1 February 2016 to assist applicants in the process. In an effort to streamline the applications, a moratorium has been placed on the deportation of Lesotho citizens until 31 December 2016. Please take note, deportation of Lesotho citizens who commit crime in South Africa will still take place. Amnesty will also be given to Lesotho citizens who are illegally in possession of South African permits, passports and/or ID documents and such documents can be handed in. According to government benefits of the permit include the limitation of bad working conditions, low wages, human rights violations and exploitative labor practices.

To apply for a special permit an applicant should have:

•             A valid passport or travel document;

•             Registration on the NPR of Lesotho;

•             Police clearance in both Lesotho and South Africa;

•             Proof of employment (sworn affidavit of the employer) with a working permit; and/or

•             Proof of business registration from SARS or CIPRO; and/or

•             Registration at an educational institution (study permit)

Employers must encourage employees from Lesotho to apply for the special permit. The initiative will strengthen bi-lateral and regional cooperation, and it will curb human trafficking and cross border smuggling activities.   


 

Renewal of fire arm licences (Act 60 of 2000)

The SAPS sent a national notice to all provinces at the end of January 2016 in which they focus on the provisions of Fire Arm Act 60 of 2000 according to which every fire arm owner is obliged to renew their fire arm licence. It was again highlighted that a renewal application must be handed in at the Police 90 days before the existing licence expires.

Applications handed in during the 90 day period will be considered if reasons are supplied for the late application. Licences will remain valid until the outcome of the late application is communicated to the licence holder. “Green licences” that are under the interim court order of the SA Hunters Association remain valid.

Where a licence has already expired and the licence holder did not apply for a renewal, the licensee is in illegal possession of the fire arm and it must be handed in at a Police station, as a person in possession of an unlicensed fire arm can be criminally liable. Such a licensee can possibly also hand in the weapon at a fire arm dealer who can “buy” or “keep it in storage” (with possible costs) after which the owner can hand in a new application for a licence at the SAPS. The most important aspect of renewal is that fire arm owners must keep to the law, which stipulates that renewal applications must be handed in at the Police 90 days prior to the expiry date of their current licences. 


 

Demarcation of magisterial districts and new area zoning of the Police 

The process of demarcation of magisterial districts by the Department of Justice should reach its final phase by the end of March 2016. The demarcation must however first be promulgated before it can be implemented.  

Public hearings during which all role players, including farming communities, were consulted, took place between November 2015 and February 2016. Participants were offered the chance to share all their concerns and needs. These concerns were included in a final document that will be included with the maps indicating the demarcation of magisterial districts. This step is specifically focused on better service delivery by courts in all districts. The final product will be communicated to our members as soon as it is made available.

New area zoning of the Police

The new area zoning of the Police’s 20 previous areas to only 12 has already been done, and all Police stations have been divided into the 12 existing areas. Area meetings with all station commanders and safety coordinators are taking place. Farmers are requested to familiarize themselves with regards to in which area their towns’ stations now reside, especially with regards to future meetings. A list of area divisions will be communicated as soon as it becomes available. 


 

Some aviation matters, also with regard to drones

Article 47 of the Act on National Environmental Management – Protected Areas Act, no 57 of 2003, regulates the use of airplanes, helicopters and other aircraft in special reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites. In this regard it is important to take note of the minimum height on which an aircraft may be flown, 2500 feet above the highest point in the relevant reserve, park or area. Exceptions do exists as indicated in sub article (2) and (3A) of the Act. According to these articles these restrictions do not have to be adhered to during a crisis or if the persons are acting on instructions of the management authority of the reserve, park or area. These restrictions apply to private persons as well as government bodies.

With regard to general requirements for aircraft certain restrictions are indicated in the Civil Aviation Regulations of 2011, and we would like to highlight some, like:

-              Every aircraft must be in possession of a registration certificate;

-              The aircraft must be branded in such a way that the nationality and the applicable registration marks there-off are clearly visible as per the instructions;

-              Markings on an aircraft that prohibits the clear indication of its nationality or registration are banned.

Taking into account the previous indications of the minimum height requirements when flying over a reserve, national park or World Heritage Site, the following is applicable to other areas:

-              No aircraft may fly lower than 1000 feet of the highest point within a radius of 2000 feet from the aircraft over urban areas or outdoor gatherings of people;

-              When a flight has to occur over an above mentioned area, the aircraft may not fly lower as 500 feet above land or water. If such a flight can take place without disturbing persons on land or on the water, while it is on a height that will be safe for flight if the aircraft should lose an engine, the pilot in control may fly lower;

-              No aircraft may fly lower than 3000 feet over an outdoor gathering circle.

Take note – A helicopter may be permitted to fly lower as instructed above if such a flight can take place without danger for persons or property, and if the pilot can fly safely should the aircraft lose an engine.  

Drones

Section 101 of the Civil Aviation Regulations regulates the use of drones and specifies that no drone may be flown in the Republic of South Africa if the owner is not in the possession of a letter of approval. This letter of approval is valid for a period of one year.

Some of the legal restrictions are:

-              No one may use a drone for commercial, corporate or non-profit activities if the operator is not in the possession of a valid operator certificate;

-              No person may use a public road for the landing or take-off of a drone;

-              A drone may not be used in controlled airspace;

-              No object or substance may be dropped or released from a drone;

-              Drones may not be used higher than 400 feet from ground level;

-              It may not be used within a radius of 10 kilometres from an airport or in restricted or prohibited air space;

-              It may not be used close to or above any nuclear power station, jail, Police station, crime scene, court, national key point or strategic installation;

-              A drone may not be used at night or to fly directly above any person or group of persons within a lateral distance of 50m above the person/persons;

-              The restriction with regard to 50m also applies to any structure or building as well as alongside a public road or with regard to the lateral distance from a public road.

The relevant legislation also indicates criminal sanctions for any breach there-of which includes a fine or jail time of no longer than 10 years, or both a fine and time in jail.