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“The role of organized agriculture is not to implement the state or governing party’s political agenda, but to put the interests of their members – the farming and agricultural community, first.”
According to Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), it is important to create a safe and sustainable agricultural environment, and this can only happen if organized agricultural organizations understand that their role includes influencing government policy and if necessary to stand against it.” This role was confirmed again this week during a FSA Executive meeting in Bloemfontein.
In order to be sustainable, Free State Agriculture will constantly strive to strengthen agriculture’s commercial role in South Africa. “Agriculture is responsible for a significant contribution to South Africa’s national food basket, employment and GDP and must be dealt with and recognized accordingly.” says Wilken. “Therefore, we (FSA) will in no way support policies that restrict property rights and economic freedom, as it not only leads to job losses but also holds the country’s economy ‘hostage’ and deters foreign investors.”
The organization also confirmed that strong agricultural structures need to be established in order to ensure the survival of agriculture. “Good co-operation must be established with communities outside politics. Communities now have the opportunity to take control of their environments as the government is clumsy and absent. We can no longer function alone. ” says Wilken.
“We work with the government if we can, without them if it has to, but always with the aim of promoting the interests of our members and the agricultural community.”