Free State Agriculture (FSA) is every member who chooses to become involved in his local agricultural community by joining an active agricultural association.

Fire disaster fund

Help our farmers back on their feet

Agriculture budget vote leaves farmers in lurch against crime and biosecurity

share this post

The Free State MEC for Agriculture’s recent budget is a lamentable failure to effectively assist farmers with regard to crime prevention and biosecurity measures. All farmers are at the mercy of not only criminals but also the outbreak of possible animal diseases.

This is the view of Free State Agriculture (FSA), after the MEC for Agriculture delivered his budget speech on Friday 25 March.

The latest case of foot-and-mouth disease identified in Potchefstroom brings this extremely worrying situation to the fore again. Free State Agriculture, together with the Red Meat Producers Organization (RPO), called on the government in 2019 to establish compartments and controlled checkpoints to prevent the outbreak of animal diseases in the Free State. It appears that despite this request, there are still significant dangers that infected animals are transported from affected areas and pose a risk to areas that are trying to maintain their health status.

Only R4.5 million of the total budget of R830,70 million from the Department of Agriculture was allocated to the fight against stock theft with drones, remote detection devices, and extensive technological aids. FSA believes that the award falls hopelessly short of making any impact on communal herds around the 88 towns in the Free State.

The allocation of R9 million for veterinarians for the construction / expansion of the laboratory in Kroonstad is encouraging, but there is no mention of how veterinarians and animal health technicians can assist emerging farmers on communal lands to vaccinate their livestock against animal diseases and assist to mark, dehorn, and castrate unsuitable bulls.

Programs to help emerging farmers make sure they have animal identification cards and to brand their livestock in order to prove ownership – that are preventative in order to address livestock theft – are also not mentioned.

The budget also makes no mention of measures to try to address the theft of maize in particular, which Free State Agriculture recently reported on to the police. Emerging farmers, like commercial farmers, are essentially also targeted by this.

Lastly, the budget fails to provide for the establishment of quarantine barriers along the RSA / Lesotho border. Lesotho animals impounded by law enforcement agencies that graze across the border or may have been stolen must be kept in isolation (separate from pounds) under the instruction of the State Veterinarian, in order to ensure that they comply with biosecurity rules and legislation. The dangers of spreading animal diseases require active intervention, something that the various organizations involved in the agricultural value chain have been advocating for some time.