RPO WESTERN CAPE ANNUAL MEETING 2018:
The RPO Western Cape held its Annual General Meeting on 31 May in Moorreesburg. During the meeting Messrs Louis Wessels (Albertinia) and Nico Uys (Heidelberg) were re-elected as chair and vice chair respectively.
With regard to producer prices, Mr Louis Wessels, chair of the RPO in the Western Cape, said the price of cattle, sheep and weaner calves had moved on new levels since 2016. “This has given rise to greater confidence in the red meat industry,” he said.
In his chairman’s address, Mr Wessels also referred to the Western Cape Stock Theft Forum and described it as “extremely effective”. “Stock theft in the Western Cape is well under control compared to other provinces, except on farms in the vicinity of the metropoles. Sheep theft is such a problem that many producers are moving away from small stock production in favour of large stock. It remains disturbing, however, that only 30% of stock theft incidents are reported to SAPS,” he said.
With regard to predators, Mr Wessels said this was the first year that the Predation Information Centre at the University of the Free State had been functional. “The scientific assessment of predation undertaken at the University of Port Elizabeth has also been completed and we look forward to receiving the results.”
In light of the in-principle decision by Red Meat Research and Development SA to introduce programmes for new research projects, Mr Wessels thanked Dr Ilse Trautmann, Chief Director: Research and Technology Development Services at Elsenburg and her team in the Western Cape for the good work they were doing.
With regard to expropriation without compensation, Mr Wessels said the RPO had, after much deliberation, realised that they “should rather take hands with agricultural organisations such as Agri SA and Agri Western Cape to state the producer’s case”.
“The RPO is opposed to the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution. The RPO will, supplementary to Agri SA, address regional meetings and introduce arguments in commodity context around food security and production, while Agri SA will participate in the legislative debate,” said Mr Wessels.
According to Mr Wessels, the Western Cape remains afflicted by the worst drought in human memory. In the wheat-producing areas of the province livestock herds had made a big contribution in maintaining producers’ cash flow. “The goodwill and support we receive from other parts and other provinces were much appreciated during these times.”
During the Annual General Meeting, Dr Sewellyn Davey of the Directorate Veterinary Services at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture said the fact that Blue Tongue vaccine was not available and would apparently only be available again next year could hold serious implications for the red meat industry. She advised red meat producers to protect their animals against Blue Tongue – which is transmitted by gnats – by keeping them on dryland, treating their faces with insecticide and grazing cattle among small stock.
Lt Col Johan Smit, Provincial Stock Theft Coordinator, said stock theft had become an easy crime to commit, but he gave the assurance that the six stock theft units in the Western Cape were strongly dedicated to completing all investigations successfully. The fact that stock theft is sometimes reported late, makes the investigating officers’ task to find evidence more difficult.
Mr Theo Boshoff of Agbiz, in his speech on land expropriation without compensation, said the state had since 2009 spent only half of the land reform budget on acquisitions. He said the ANC had to date been silent on exactly which amendments they want to make to strike a balance between expropriation without compensation and food security. “Our neighbouring states’ food security is also at risk,” he said.
Dr Peter Johnston, climatologist at the University of Cape Town, said climate change was not a myth. “Risks for the red meat industry could be as follows: changes in the spreading of pestilence and disease; changes in water availability; greater incidence of regular heat stress; diminished growth and reproduction capability; reduced meat production and quality; and an increase in death and disease,” he said. Dr Johnson said pasture management could cause the negative impact of climate change either to increase or to decrease.