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Welcome to the February  2016 issue of the Red Meat Producers Organisation's Newsletter 
The RPO Executive's meeting was held on 27 and 28 January 2016 and the following important matters was discussed.
 

Drought in the spotlight

The drought situation has been one of the most important issues discussed at the meeting.
The Executive Council decided at the meeting to compile an urgent survey on the impact of the drought on the red meat industry.
  
This follows after a need has been identified by agri-businesses, industry organisations and organised agriculture to quantify the impact of the drought. The survey will be telephonically compiled and members are requested to cooperate if they are contacted.

Assistance in pushing for new export protocols for meat and milk breeding stock

The South African Veterinary Semen and Embryo Group (SAVSEG) requested the RPO’s assistance in pushing for new export protocols for meat and milk breeding stock, especially from China.
SAVSEG is concerned about the lack of support received from government institutions in negotiation for new export protocols.
  
China has a shortage of meat and milk breeding stock and Chinese delegations interested in importing these commodities has paid numerous visits to South Africa. Other countries like Australia currently exports large amounts of these commodities to China. Trade between South Africa and China is skewed in favour of China and the export of South African genetics will assist in correcting this imbalance.
 
In this harsh economic climate and extreme drought the value of foreign currency has become an increasingly important source of income to the agricultural sector and the country as a whole. 

Small Stock School a possibility

After the overwhelming success of the Adam Beef Cattle School, the organisers decided to present a Small Stock School under the auspices of the University of the Free State from 1 to 3 June 2016 at Gariep dam. Due to the current drought, it was however decided to postpone the event to 2017.                         
All the role players of the Small Stock Federation will be involved with the school. Although it is primarily targeted at commercial farmers, there will also be matters of interest to the stud breeders industry and emerging farmers.
  
National and international speakers will perform during the morning sessions, while practical sessions will be presented during the afternoons. Topics like selection of rams and ewes, feed management, animal health, genetics as well as financial management will be handled. 

Predator friendly meat

The national RPO requested SAMIC to refer the matter of predator friendly meat to the Agricultural Product Standards Act for a definition.  
The Agricultural Product Standards Act regulates and provides guidelines and specifications for red meat products for the consumer market. Earlier this year a supermarket chain released a media statement that a premium will be paid to producers that supply predator friendly meat products.

Draft Veterinary Strategy

The Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) commented on the draft Veterinary Strategy.  
The success of this strategy is totally dependent on the commitment from all the relevant government departments including Treasury.  A major concern is that according to the strategy, possibly 253 veterinarians are required to carry out minimum requirements for a basic service while a moratorium has been placed on staff appointments.  Similarly a number of other well-meant projects, i.e. livestock estimating initiatives failed dismally due to a lack of funding. 

Poultry regulations discussed

A meeting was held between stakeholders on the status of the amendment to the poultry meat regulations.
The stakeholders expressed their view on the proposals regarding the limits of brine injection and the meeting agreed that the publication of the 2013 draft amendment should proceed and that the South African Poultry Association’s concerns should be addressed during the total revision of the poultry regulations. The Association however indicated that the lack of reliable test methods to determine the levels of brine injection, will hamper proper implementation of the 2013 draft amendment.  
  
This meeting was the final consultative meeting with stakeholders and no further meetings will be scheduled regarding the 2013 draft amendment. 

AGRI SA tries to keep farmers in production

The drought has already assumed enormous proportions and Agri SA remains constantly in discussion with government with a view to secure assistance to keep farmers in production. Efforts are being made at every level to mitigate the impact of the drought.
 One of these initiatives, is Agri SA’s Drought Disaster Fund which was established in conjunction with Senwes. The fund is now being administered by Agri SA and delegated to grassroots level in all provinces where there is a dire need. Producers can apply via their farmer associations for disaster relief.  Read more ...

Landbank can help with tax relaxation

Landbank can assist livestock farmers in times of drought with a tax relaxation in terms of Article 13 of the Income Tax Act, Act 58 of 1952.
If farmers have to sell livestock due to the drought and they do not need the money at present, it can be kept tax free at Land Bank. According to income tax legislation the money can be invested by Land Bank for a period of four years, after which it will automatically be taxable. As Land Bank interests are fairly in line with commercial banks, the farmers will earn some interest on their investment.  Read more ...

Denmark to assist with water

As part of Denmark’s continued and strengthening partnership with South Africa, a Danish royal visit to South Africa coincided with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the country and South Africa’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation which outlines a long term partnership on policy and technology development and knowledge exchange.
The MoU will be formalised around major current and future challenges in South Africa’s water supply and the subsequent areas where Denmark can provide strong partnership particularly around policy incentives for water conservation, management practises and water efficient solutions.  Read more ...

Drought creates all sorts of problems

The main issue of about every report, except from some coastal areas, is the drought, according to the monthly report on livestock disease trends as informally reported by veterinarians in South Africa.
Animals are dying due to lack of grazing, protein and energy deficiencies,  suffering from heat stress, eating poisonous plants due to lack of food, having calving problems and low fertility. Reports are received of animals stuck in mud searching for water and food.  Read more ...

Rainfall can influence beef prices

Internationally, in the US specifically, cattle prices can decline as a result of increased competition for other meat sources, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
In New Zealand and Australia, recent rains might bring some relief to dry conditions and add support to prices. Locally, market prices remain firm and are expected to follow a sideways movement in the short term. It is however in line with seasonal trends for prices to ease during the month of January. Another influencer in prices in the next few weeks will also be the outlook of rainfall.  Read more ...


The February 2016 digital version of the Red Meat/Rooivleis magazine available on www.agriconnect.co.za 

Management of the drought

Most livestock producers are in a dire position due to the drought, but it is possible to manage the situation in such a way that unnecessary livestock deaths are prohibited and financial losses are reduced.
In large parts of the central interior available grazing material is scarce on veld (natural pasture). Prospects for improvement of the poor grazing conditions in the remaining part of summer and winter are not favourable. In addition to current poor grazing conditions, low levels of water in the soil during spring and early summer will also have a negative effect on veld production and livestock. Crops are already affected negatively and therefore crop residues which are usually used as livestock feed will also not be readily available.  Read more ...

Draft scheme published

Mr Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in terms of section 12 of the Meat Safety Act, Act 40 of 2000, published the Draft Meat Inspection Scheme for broader public comment. 
Interested parties were invited to submit written comments within 30 days from the date of publication.

Playing fields must be level

The Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) committee on the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Project) trade agreements recommended that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as a priority must ensure that the USA accept the South African Veterinary Protocol as equivalent to that of the USA to enable South Africa to export red meat to the USA.
The Committee inter alia consists of representatives of the Department, the RMIF and the Pork Export Working Group.  Read more ...

Grassfed protocol finalised

The Grassfed Association of South Africa (GFASA) finalised a protocol which serves as the national minimum standard for Free Range/Grass Fed meat production and certification in South Africa.
This protocol is based on the following guiding principles and standard operating procedures (SOP):
  • Farmers must farm ruminant livestock in accordance with the following:
    • Produce livestock in a free ranging system;
    • On grazing pasture;   Read more ...

Mutton prices remain fairly stable

Internationally, mutton prices remain bearish as a result of abundant supplies, according to ABSA Agri Trends.
Recent rain In New Zealand could slow numbers offered and help support the market. Locally, mutton prices have remained fairly stable, and are expected to follow a sideways trend in the short term.  Read more ...

Perspective

Lespedeza as aid to control internal parasites.
Internal parasites live in livestock, some almost symbiotic but others mostly pathogenic. The latter is our concern and they include the nematodes (worms) and trematodes (which include the liver and conical fluke). In semi-intensive production systems, the increased concentration of livestock on pastures has enhanced parasite populations to such an extent that livestock production has become largely dependent on anthelmintic treatment. This is one of the reasons for the increased development of resistant strains of parasites to chemotherapeutic anthelmintics, which has required the search for sustainable alternative methods to complement or replace anthelmintics. Many calls are made for a more holistic management solution. Recent studies on the use of bio-active forages, such as Lespedeza cuneata which contains tannins that are toxic to some internal parasites, highlighted the potential of such forages to contribute towards holistic parasite control. This was further investigated in a study in KZN, referenced below.  Read more ...

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