Department of Agriculture worried that halting cattle movement will have negative impact on economy

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The Department of Agriculture says the suspension of all movement of cattle across the country will have a huge negative effect on the economy. The department says this decision is aimed at halting the continued spread of Foot and Mouth Disease in the country.

The ban means that cattle may not be moved from one property to another for any reason for a period of 21 days reviewable weekly. Government is hopeful that the disease would have been contained in the next three weeks to allow normal trade to resume.

To date, the department has recorded 116 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, involving farms, feedlots and communal areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State Provinces.

Department of Agriculture Deputy Director General, Dipepenene Serage says the government is aware of the major disruption the ban will cause in the normal business of many sectors.

Therefore, this ban will only be applicable to cattle but warns the public that all cloven-hoofed animals can spread this virus and asks the public to remain cautious.

“This ban would automatically have a huge effect on the economy of the country as far as the trade in livestock is concerned hence we chose to have it for 21 days in fact scientifically we should have had it longer but we’re hoping with this 21 days we will be able to control and contain it.”

The Department says the spread of the disease has been happening at an unexpected rate: 

‘Ban is necessary’

The National Animal Health Forum Coordinator, Marzanne Roots says the ban is necessary because of the 16 other cases recorded in the past two weeks in two new provinces in the country.

“The spread is just at such a stage that we need to have drastic measures like this just to curb that spread and to make sure that it does not spread any further.”

Milk Producers Association- Dairy Farm Chief Executive Officer, Fanie Farreira says dairy farms are not severely impacted by the outbreak. Farreira says dairy farmers are still able to produce for as long as farmers put in necessary measures in place.

“If a dairy farm is affected that milk can still be used for human consumption, it just must be pasteurised. So, you know as I repeat again, we are lucky this far that we haven’t been affected to a large extent.”

The National Wool Producers General Manager, Leon de Beer, says the ban has impacted its exports of wool and has cost the industry over R700 million in storage and other costs.

“The impact is severe, you know when the ban was introduced in April the auctions for wool still continued until early June and the volumes of wool together with the storage and all other costs related to that has already impacted to an amount of more than R730 million in the industry.”

Senior Agricultural Economist Paul Makube from FNB Agri-Business says although the ban is a short-term measure, it is still disruptive to the supply and demand dynamics in the country.

Makube says should the outbreak persist it will curtail the country’s export drive which is still a relatively small share of local production.