SA feedlots against import restrictions
The feedlot industry provides the major share of cattle slaughtered annually for the South African market. Ten percent (10 %) of the annual cattle slaughtering’s as well as in the region of 420,000 sheep and goats originate from Namibia.
The feedlot industry, which forms an integral part of the entire beef supply chain, has to a large extent vertically integrated into slaughtering and marketing their own branded products and is totally dependent on healthy disease-free livestock and would not support any action that would put the national livestock herds at risk.
The SA Feedlot Association (SAFA) represents the interests of this feedlot industry on all the relevant industry bodies and has as one of its objectives to promote the interests of its members by encouraging and effecting the improvement in all matters affecting the well-being of the industry within the Republic of South Africa.
In the middle of December 2013 SAFA was informed by the Namibian Meat Board that revised import requirements for all domestic livestock were to be introduced by the SA Department of Animal Health on 1 January 2014 without any official notification to, or consultation with, the major affected parties in South Africa.
During February 2014 SAFA was officially notified that the new import policy would be implemented with effect 1st May 2014.
Various meetings were held between the Animal Health departments of South Africa and Namibia during the first few months of this year, but to no avail.
South Africa and Namibia are both signatories to international agreements that clearly specify what procedures are to be followed before animal health requirements between countries can be changed, which in SAFA’s view were not followed.
The SAFA lodged its objections to the [SA] Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Animal Health during the latter part of April this year, which were not acknowledged. The revised import requirements were implemented with effect 1 May 2014.
All livestock trade from the implementation of the revised requirements on 1 May 2014 came to a virtual standstill due to the totally impractical import requirements.
On the 12th August the Minister and the Department consented to a court order issued compelling the minister to make a decision on these objections by 26th August. The Director General appointed an Investigating Team of very senior departmental directors to investigate the SAFA objections and to advise the minister as to the validity of these objections
On the 26th of August SAFA was informed that the minister had upheld the SAFA objections and had suspended the revised import requirements with immediate effect advising that the department would give notice of inclusive consultations to be held with industry.
The SAFA commends the minister for his decision which has relieved the department of any further international trade embarrassment and unwarranted trade disruption.
SAFA trusts that going forward due process will be followed and there will be compliance to international trade agreements.
SA Feedlot Association