Categories: News, Stock and game farmingPublished On: 25th February 2020

APAC bio-security protocol by auctioneers

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All livestock agents need to take note that it is compulsory to register with APAC, a self-sustaining regulatory body.

With the recent scare of the food-and-mouth disease outbreak, it became clear that better self-regulation of the industry is required.

Background of foot and mouth disease

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cattle, pigs (domestic and wild), sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals. Signs of disease in animals may include depressed animals, sores in the mouth of animals causing reluctance to eat and lameness.

  • Subsequent to the outbreak of foot-and-fouth disease (FMD) that occurred in January 2019 in the Vhembe district, and November 2019 outside the FMD disease management area in the Molemole district in Limpopo it became apparent that the red meat value chain had to relook its position on bio-security. The role-players of the RMIF had separate and collective dealings with each other and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).
  • The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development , Thoko Didiza’s national restriction on the gathering of animals gazetted in December 2019, had the effect that the most commonly known channel of cattle marketing in South Africa was brought to an immediate standstill. The RMIF confirmed in a meeting it held on the 21st of January 2020, that it supported the decision made at the time. The Minister of Agriculture during the outbreak in January 2019 (Minister Zokwana), activated three committees. Following a meeting with Minister Didiza after the second outbreak in November 2019, the Ministerial committees on FMD were reactivated.

At the last three technical committee meetings the representatives of the Limpopo Animal Health Forum (LAHF) and the South African Livestock Auctioneers (SAFLA) submitted a strategy to relook bio-security at auction pens, when the Minister lifts the ban. One of the most important conditions as a prerequisite for continuation of livestock auctions is that all livestock agents must, as a compulsory measure, be registered with the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (that is APAC). Provision for this aspect is already contained in Act 12 of 1992.

All animals that are presented for auction should be properly marked (this is branded or tagged with the farmer mark or identification to whom it belongs). This is an aspect that has always been a bone of contention. As a condition to continue business, this will have to be met now. The role of all stake holders (starting with the farmer or the owner of the animal) will now become an important and integral part of the value chain. This also includes the correct documentation and the proper completion thereof. Simply put, all the information required on a prescribed form should be accurately presented. This will allow proper traceability and will also curb the problem of stock theft.

In addition, all livestock agents will have to comply with the following:

•           The Rules in Respect of Livestock Agents – these rules were amended in March 2018 and will require all livestock agents to re-register with APAC by the end of March 2020. From thereon reregistration will occur in 2-year cycles.

•           APAC, in conjunction with the technical committee established by the Minister, have drafted Biosecurity Rules for Livestock Agents – these rules will be gazetted within the next 2 weeks and will be regulated by APAC. The content pans wide and APAC will take hands with other role players (such as government Veterinary Services) to ensure compliance.

Other elements that Livestock Agents will have to comply with include: Confirmed acceptance of responsibilities in terms of Section 11 of the Animal Disease Act, the appointment of a Biosecurity Manager (someone who is registered with the SA Veterinary Council) for every auction, written acceptance of the APAC rules, and an independent external audit that must be done on the auction facilities and all auction procedures. These audit reports must be submitted to APAC bi-annually.

There are many more important prescriptive elements that should be complied with, the aforementioned are however the most important.

Frequently asked questions answered by Francois Knowles, Registrar of APAC:

How will the new biosecurity rules that you refer to, be implemented?

Allow me to distinguish between the continuation of livestock auctions and the implementation of new measures to manage auctions. Auctions may proceed immediately but should be done with extreme caution.

In terms of the new biosecurity measures, our discussions with the Minister was very specific and touched on the following:

•           The measures that are to be introduced was developed by the industry for the industry. This was met with great support from the Minister and the Department of Agriculture. Self-regulation implies greater efficiency and urgency but comes with great responsibility. APAC will play a major part herein.

•           We must however be realistic and understand that this cannot happen overnight. The best approach thus is to phase control measures into our industry over a specific timeframe (for now we are contemplating a year where after all conditions should be met).

We as the regulator of all livestock agents, are the Minister ever so grateful for her support and the speed with which we could resolve a potential damming and disastrous situation.

What is APAC willing to do to assist livestock agents in the way forward?

APAC is willing to assist livestock agents should they have any questions or require any assistance about the new regulations that will be gazetted soon. It is important that we look after the interest of all our livestock agents and we are fully committed to do so.

What is the way forward?

We were (and probably are still in a crisis). The impact of the ban had was far greater than I think we ever anticipated. It affected our farmers, livestock agents, consumers and everybody in SA. We need to limit the possibility of spreading the disease and we will now do so with great care and oversight. My opinion is to take hands with the Minister, the Department of Agriculture and all industry stake holders. We were handed the opportunity to manage this crisis and now is the time to shine. We must all play our part and sacrifice to protect our beautiful industry. Here APAC and its registered agents will take the lead.

Francois Knowles is the Registrar of the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (known as APAC). The objective of APAC as a self-sustaining regulatory body, is to regulate and manage the occupations of fresh produce, export and livestock agents in South Africa.

Please contact APAC at 011-894-3680 or visit www.apacweb.org.za

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