Welcome to the June 2020 issue of the Red Meat Producers Organisation Newsletter
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Update on the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Limpopo

 The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development reported on the good progress that has been made in the investigation of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the Molemole Municipality of Limpopo Province. 
Following initial trace-back exercises, the outbreak was linked to four auctions, held at two auction premises in September and October 2019. Testing of the primary linked locations is almost completed and a number of secondary locations have been identified for follow-up testing. Precautionary quarantine has already been lifted on 127 of the linked locations that have since tested negative. 
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New issue of Red Meat/Rooivleis arrives soon!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown measures it was not possible to print the previous edition of Red Meat/Rooivleis (Vol.11 No.2). The issue is digitally available at
We are however excited to announce the new edition (Vol.11 No.3) will indeed be printed, as the printers are operational again. The postal service has not yet fully resumed, so it is difficult to determine a precise delivery date, but we are hopeful the latest issue will arrive at your door from middle to end of June.
The digital edition will also be available in full on the website from Monday. Happy reading!
The Agri Connect Team

What a post COVID-19 world could mean for the meat industry

The next 30 years are the most important in the history of animal agriculture.
We’re going to need to double the protein by 2050 to feed the world’s population. The chances that alternative protein developers can deliver on this are pretty small and so, there is room for dramatic growth for both animal and alternative protein. The current efforts to demonise each other can be counterproductive and therefore how can we co-exist and leverage each other to meet this goal of feeding the world’s population?
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Livestock auctions industry embraces digital solutions

Recent disruptions within the local livestock auctions industry, caused by the ban imposed on open-cry auctions earlier this year due to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak and, more recently, due to restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 lockdown, has seen a fast increase in the use of digital auction platforms.

While digital auctions are not new to the industry, the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and subsequent ban on ‘open-cry’ auctions, forced role players to search for alternative solutions to preserve the transparent price-making nature of auctions.
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Meat import trends

Bovine meat imports for March 2020 amounts to 405 tons. This represents a decrease of 84% if compared to March 2019, according to Agri Inspec.
The FOB (Free on Board) price for March 2020 was R33.68 p/kg and for March 2019 was R36.29 p/kg. This represents a decrease of 7% in the price per kilogram.
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Beef market trends

Globally, due to the COVID-19 effects, demand from restaurants fell drastically, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
The closures and slowdowns at the processing plants in the US have created oversupply of live animals and shortages of processed animals. We expect volatility in the meat market futures for the coming months and weeks. 

Locally, uncertainty in the market is currently dominating views. Prices are expected to trade at current levels or lower because of subdued demand.
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Breeding for a lower carbon footprint in cattle

One way to reduce the carbon footprint is to reduce cattle numbers but increase the production per animal. Increased productivity emits less greenhouse gas (GHG) per unit of product, say kg meat. Therefore, apart from improvement in production efficiency and revenue, one can also improve the carbon footprint by a breeding objective of increased productivity. However, selection for many of the traditional traits may increase production, but not necessarily productivity or efficiency of production. Therefore in this presentation the authors cited below investigated various options and discussed (1) selection for parent-offspring efficiency and the main components affecting it, (2) selection for alternative post weaning efficiency traits and (3) alternative production systems (crossbreeding).
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June 2020

Gene edited cattle: are we there yet?

As gene editing technology advances, the possibility of genetically modified beef and dairy cattle is closer than ever. Where is the cattle industry now, and how do we ensure consumer and environmental safety as the technology becomes more widespread?
As gene edited cattle come closer to reality, lingering questions of safety, traceability, welfare and oversight remain in the world’s beef producing nations.

Many of us have heard the pitch for gene editing: It has the potential to make cattle more resistant to disease and improve their health and welfare. The fact that we could design cattle that give better production yields makes economic sense as well.
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Heart study debunks meat metabolite myth

A metabolite linked to red meat and egg-rich diets is not the heart attack and stroke trigger many feared, new Australian research reveals.
A study by Heart Research Institute in Sydney has debunked the widely publicised belief that trimethylamine-N-oxide, or TMAO, can clog up arteries, causing catastrophic heart problems like heart attacks and strokes. “We’ve discovered that contrary to other research, this metabolite called TMAO, isn’t actually responsible for these common debilitating heart conditions,” says Assoc Prof John O’Sullivan, head of the HRI’s Cardiometabolic Disease Group.
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Farming and COVID-19: A comparison in control

With the COVID-19 pandemic that is occurring, it is perhaps an opportune time to make a comparison with animal disease.
Covid-19 is a highly contagious disease, so are many animal diseases – think of our recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease in the north east of the country. Trading partners in neighboring countries immediately placed a ban on the export of animals, animal products and feed to prevent the disease from entering their country. In a similar fashion some authorities across the world initially placed a ban on movement of people from highly infected COVID-19 countries as they feared the spread of disease to their country.
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Sheep market trends

The coronavirus is unlikely to decline the strong lamb market but international wool prices are likely to decline further before gaining strength late this year, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
This trend is expected to be on the back off the assumption of decreased US and Chinese consumer sentiment.

Locally, lamb and mutton prices remain subdued due to the availability of cheaper protein alternatives and weakened economic activity. Prices are expected to trade sideways to higher according to seasonality.
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Hide market trends

Currently there is not much of a market for hides locally and globally, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
The standstill in the local automotive sector, of which the leather and hide industry is largely dependent on, has resulted in almost no sales across South Africa. For the coming weeks, a very significant percentage of the local hides will not be taken up by the leather industry. The local hide market is expected to remain under immense pressure.
Local hide market
The current average hide price decreased by 7.3% to R0.82/kg from R0.89/kg green. The current price, however, is 11.1% lower than the average price a month ago and is 51.9% lower than the average price a year ago.
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