SURVIVING FMD: A PRACTICAL APPROACH

Published On: 9 Jul 2022By Categories: Latest News, Animal Health

I know it is boring

I know we have been bombarded with information.

I know we are tired of hearing bad news, but unfortunately the situation in South Africa with respect to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is such that we cannot ignore it. I am advised that there are now 2 major feedlots (North West Province and Free State Province) as well as some backgrounding properties where the disease has recently been diagnosed. These feedlots produce 20% of the fattened calves that reach the market. Now that they are under quarantine (truly not sure why this policy is not amended) the beef carcass price has jumped three Rand per kilogram. It affects us all, directly. Of course, we as game ranchers, if we can get our collective act together, can temporarily fill some of the red meat gap and even benefit from the increased price. Mercenary thoughts, yes, but the wheel turns, not always slowly.

Of course, we are here dependent on five directorates in the Department of Agriculture to achieve the goals of:

  1. Formalizing the game meat industry (Public Health and the Meat Safety Act that have been under negotiation for 14 years now)
  2. Ending this disastrous FMD outbreak (Veterinary Services)
  3. Restoring South Africa’s FMD free status
  4. Resuming the much-needed exports of red meat, game meat and wool.
  5. Creating a thriving, all-inclusive red meat industry with exports that not only solves our tragic food security situation but also contributes as it should to our economic well-being as a country.

To achieve this, we need to convince the authorities to act wisely and quickly. What is needed is:

A proper, Public Private Partnership (PPP) to develop and agreed strategy, and to implement it.

This strategy must include:

  • A FMD Command Council made up of both public and private experts
  • Proper Livestock identification schemes
  • The use of all modern technologies
    • New diagnostics especially cow-side tests
    • New technology DIVA vaccines (tests that can distinguish between diseases, vaccinated and uninfected animals)
  • Proper fencing on our borders, including those around the Kruger National Park
  • Proper movement control
  • The implementation of Commodity-based FMD control

This will not happen tomorrow. It is a massive challenge, and it will only be achieved if we ALL work together. Unfortunately, I have already seen individuals opposing similar proposals made by RMIS, PRO and NAHF to the Minister of Agriculture, typically South African: “elke hoenderhaan soek sy eie mishoopie”.

But in the meantime, it is critically important to protect one’s own ungulate animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and game.) This mea

ns the strictest of biosecurity measures, about which we will expand next month.

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