At least 50 emerging farmers are taking legal action against the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, to lift the nationwide ban on livestock gathering and auctions which are in place since 2019. The court application to lift a ban on livestock auctions will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today.
The ban had been implemented to stop the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The farmers would request the Minister to lift the ban on auctions in eight out of nine provinces in which there have been not reported cases of FMD – citing that the initial decision was irrational. Opposition parties had formerly called on Minister Didiza to lift this moratorium in non-affected areas and deal decisively with FMD outbreak as per the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.
Emerging farmers say that apart from the continuing drought, they are now forced to go to court over the “irrational” FMD decision. In the court papers, the plaintiffs state that to date the department had failed to:
- Disinfect all affected farms and vehicles in the affected regions;
- Create visible policing to monitor all livestock carrying vehicles in the province to enforce quarantine;
- Allocate a budget to fight the disease outbreak;
- Conduct routine inoculation;
- Took their time regarding the Vhembe District disease outbreak due to a of the lack of vaccines and
- Inform police authorities to take all necessary steps to protect the spreading of the disease.
Political parties said that the severity of this outbreak cannot be downplayed as the last outbreak of FMD in January 2019 resulted in a brief ban on South African wool and meat exports which cost the economy in excess of R10 billion.