HomeAgri NewsDDG: “Livestock traceability will become law in 2024”

DDG: “Livestock traceability will become law in 2024”

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

“This year, livestock traceability will become law,” said Dipepeneneng Serage, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) deputy director-general of agricultural production, biosecurity and disaster management. He spoke during the research conference hosted by DALRRD in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Pretoria.

“The Animal Improvement Act, 1998 (Act 62 of 1998) already requires numbering. If we have numbering, then we have traceability, so why can’t we get traceability from that?” Serage said. He argued that some of the country’s current agricultural laws already made provision for traceability to become law. “When implementing a regulation, you have to look at the Act and find an enabling provision and the Act does have that provision.”

Serage argued that subsection 15.3 [a] of the Act made provision for the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System (INTERGIS) and this could be seen as the gap needed to ensure traceability compliance in the industry. “The legislation people will tell us if this works, but we only need a regulation – not an entirely new act. We already have too many acts as it is.”

Learn how artificial intelligence can assist with traceability here.

Private sector invited to implement programmes

Serage said all livestock industries were welcome to implement traceability programmes before DALRRD publishes a national regulation on the matter. “The one thing we must realise is that you cannot expect everybody to change a system they already have in place. That is why the government programme will have to make provisions for current traceability programmes to slot into it.

“If we can have a generic government system for producers that can interface data with the government’s database that would be perfect. All we need to know is exactly what happens to an animal from birth to slaughter.”

Serage said it was important that the process should not be overcomplicated, because, at its core, traceability was simple. “All we need is a basic law that says: ‘If you farm with animals, you shall have a system that tells us the mother of the cow and all the steps taken to get it to this abattoir.’ If you have this, then you have traceability.”

Serage expressed that if individuals had the means to conduct traceability, without counting the head of cattle, that would also be acceptable. “Then you can deal with the South African Revenue Service and not us. We want to ensure that every animal on the abattoir floor can be traced back to its mother.”

Sole African country lacking a traceability system

Prof Frikkie Maré, CEO of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO), stated that although producers might argue that farm gate prices are their biggest problem, the reality is that traceability is the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment. “Price is the effect of the problem. The industry’s biggest challenge at this stage is the country’s animal health status. This is problematic because we lack a traceability system.”

Prof Maré said it was concerning that South Africa was the only country out of 54 African countries that did not have a traceability plan in place. “We think we are one of the leaders on the continent, but this is not the case when it comes to traceability.”

At the very least, a traceability system would enable South Africa to know how many animals are in the country. “Currently, we have no idea. The last animal census was conducted in 1998. After that, it was updated with indexes. How do you do supply forecasts if we don’t know how many animals there are?”

Prof Maré mentioned that good protocols were being put in place between industry and government. However, he expressed his frustration over the lack of a clear deadline for the legal implementation of traceability. “Unfortunately, South Africa took too long to implement a national system. Industry ran ahead and implemented their systems and now the biggest issue is to combine the existing programmes into a single programme.”

“You are talking about ultra-high frequency and low-frequency readers, and which is the best and cheapest, etc.,” Prof Maré indicated, adding that the discussion quickly became very technical. “The Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS-SA) and the Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS) are currently working on it, so the primary livestock cluster is very busy working on it.” – Susan Marais, Plaas Media

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