Agriculture budget vote leaves farmers in lurch against crime & biosecurity

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.

Landbou se begroting versaak boere tov misdaadbekamping en biosekuriteitmaatreëls

Die Vrystaatse LUR vir Landbou se onlangse begroting uiteensetting is ʼn klaaglike mislukking om boere ten opsigte van misdaadbekamping en biosekuriteitsmaatreëls effektief by te staan.  Alle boere is uitgelewer nie net aan kriminele nie, maar ook aan die uitbreek van moontlike dieresiektes onder hul kuddes.

Dit is die siening van Vrystaat Landbou (VL), nadat die LUR van Landbou sy begrotingstoespraak op Vrydag 25 Maart gelewer het.

Die jongste geval van bek-en-klouseer wat in Potchefstroom geïdentifiseer is, plaas weer hierdie uiters kommerwekkende situasie op die voorgrond. Vrystaat Landbou het al in 2019 tesame met die Rooivleis Produsente-Organisasie (RPO) ʼn beroep op die regering gedoen vir die instel van kompartemente en beheerde kontrolepunte om die uitbreek van dieresiektes in die Vrystaat te voorkom. Dit blyk dat ten spyte van hierdie versoek, daar steeds wesenlike gevare bestaan dat besmette diere vanuit geaffekteerde areas vervoer word en sodoende ʼn risiko inhou vir areas wat poog om hul gesondheidstatus te behou.

Slegs R4.5 miljoen van die totale begroting van R830,7 miljoen van die Departement van Landbou is aan die bekamping van veediefstal met hommeltuie, opsporingstoestelle, uitgebreide tegnologiese hulpmiddels toegeken.  VL meen die toekenning skiet hopeloos tekort om in die 88 dorpe in die Vrystaat by kommunale gronde enige impak te maak.

Die toekenning van R9 miljoen vir veeartse vir die bou / uitbreiding van die laboratorium te Kroonstad is bemoedigend, maar daar word geensins gemeld hoe veeartse en dieregesondheid tegnici opkomende boere kan bystaan op kommunale gronde om hul vee in te ent teen dieresiektes nie.

Programme ten einde opkomende boere te help om seker te maak dat hul oor diere identifikasie kaarte beskik, hul vee te brandmerk ten einde eienaarskap te bewys wat voorkomend is ten einde veediefstal aan te spreek word ook nie vermeld nie.

Die begroting maak ook geensins melding van maatreëls om die diefstal van veral mielies, waaroor Vrystaat Landbou onlangs berig het, te probeer aanspreek nie.  Opkomende boere word ook soos kommersiële boere wesenlik hierdeur geteiken.

In die laaste instansie, versuim die begroting om voorsiening te maak vir die oprigting van kwarantynskutte langs die RSA/Lesothogrens. Diere wat deur die wetstoepassingsagentskappe geskut word wat oorgrens wei of moontlik gesteel is, moet in afsondering gehou word (apart van skutte) onder instruksie van die Staatsveearts ten einde te verseker dat hul aan biosekuriteitsreëls en wetgewing voldoen. Die gevare van die verspreiding van dieresiektes vereis daadwerklike optrede, iets wat die onderskeie organisasies betrokke in die landbou waardeketting al ʼn geruime tyd bepleit.