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At the annual Red Meat Producers Organisation’s (RPO) national congress, which was held virtually on 5 August, the outgoing RPO chairperson, Koos van der Ryst, remarked on the last three years as a time which has been marked by numerous challenges in South Africa’s red meat industry.

While addressing the participants, Van der Ryst emphasised the urgency of implementing a traceability system as an essential tool to reinstate South Africa’s foot-and-mouth disease free zone status. In conjunction with this, he also pointed out that the red meat industry has the important task of educating consumers so as to promote customer assurance in the red meat industry.

Where the exportation of livestock by ship is concerned, Van der Ryst said the RPO supports these exports, but believes that international animal welfare standards must be adhered to within the production environment. He concluded by encouraging producers to continue producing food at the lowest cost possible.

The producer, feedlot and abattoir industries appointed the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) to identify industry requirements and to make recommendations in what is considered an inclusive process. Gerhard van den Burgh gave a detailed report on a study undertaken by BFAP on the impact of the statutory levy on the red meat value chain.

In terms of traceability, he pondered what the outcome, or price-effect, would be if some of the issues pertaining to transformation, industry liaison, consumer education, animal health and the like could be “sorted out”. In addition, Van den Burgh noted that it is vital to know that the entire value chain could be negatively impacted if the situation does not improve.

Stock theft commentary

Willie Clack, chairperson of the National Stock Theft Prevention Forum, conveyed some surprising information when he remarked on the fact that South Africa is currently at the peak of a five-to-seven-year cycle of stock theft escalation. “Being at the peak of this cycle means we are experiencing a decline in stock theft,” he said.

According to statistics, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Free State are experiencing the highest stock theft numbers out of all the provinces. The main stock theft routes run from Umtata via the old Transkei and KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng, which is the most densely populated province in the country. Stock theft routes are also common in Wakkerstroom and its surroundings (Mpumalanga) and Taung in North West. – Carin Venter, AgriOrbit