Possible Legal Action On Livestock Ban

The South African Feedlot Association yesterday confirmed it is considering lodging an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court to overturn the new set of requirements regarding the import of Namibian beef to South Africa.

This comes in the wake of Namibia’s livestock industry and the South African feedlots continuing to suffer vast financial losses after South African authorities implemented stringent requirements for livestock exports from Namibia to South Africa on May 01.

Speaking exclusively to New Era from Pretoria, the executive director of the South African Feedlot Association, Dave Ford, said the organisation would draft a legal document that will serve as basis for such an urgent court application. “We have just started with the process because it has become evident that the South African feedlots are also suffering heavy losses due to the strict new requirements for livestock exports from Namibia. The Namibian producers supply the South African feedlots annually with some 190 000 weaners on average and everybody is now feeling the pinch after the requirements were put in place,” he said.

Ford says while the outcome of the export requirements is in the hands of the governments of both countries, the association has to consider the high court option in the interest of their clients as well as the precarious situation of Namibian producers.

The Permanent Secretary in the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Dr Malan Lindeque, and the Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in South Africa, Prof Edith Vries, held an urgent meeting some two weeks ago in Pretoria. At the meeting it was decided to establish a joint committee to assess the situation and make an announcement on May 31.

Both parties have since been in high-profile discussions with all stakeholders and role players and yesterday they were all waiting for possible relief and an announcement could be expected any time soon. It brought a glimmer of hope for local producers whose exports have grinded to a halt with virtually no cattle leaving the country since May 1, while only some 1 700 goats were exported to KwaZulu-Natal so far this year. Namibia normally exports some 250 000 goats annually to South Africa. The Namibian delegation at the Pretoria meeting made a breakthrough in establishing the intent to do away with the requirements for all Namibian direct slaughter animals – including some 190 000 weaners and 100 000 sheep – after May 31, which will bring huge relief to local producers.

But until then and more fine-tuning of the standard operating procedures, all livestock exports have been put on hold, auctions have dwindled and thousands of communal farmers are reeling from the effects of the draconian animal health regulations.

Over 60 000 emerging and communal farmers are suffering most from the restrictions that have cut off their livelihood, while pressure is mounting on them for bank repayments as they secured loans for the export market to South Africa. Namibia produces some 400 000 cattle annually, half of it being slaughter oxen and the other almost 200 000 weaners. If these weaners are to stay in Namibia due to the impossible export requirements, the local market will be saturated and farmers robbed of a vital source of income. However, it was agreed during the last meeting the intent of both parties is to make the new requirements not applicable to direct slaughter animals after May 31. This will also apply to Namibian weaners that are exported live to feeding pens but are also to be regarded as slaughter animals eventually.

Farmers’ unions New Era contacted yesterday reserved comment until after an official announcement by government, but all agreed that if the situation is not resolved it will have profound effects on the industry and even force communal, emerging and commercial farmers to bid the industry farewell.

Source : New Era