The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (Dalrrd), Thoko Didiza, MP has taken the decision to suspend all movement of cattle in the whole country.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Dalrrd spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said the Minister’s decision was aimed at halting the continued spread of Foot and Mouth Disease in the country.

“It also means that cattle may not be moved from one property to another for any reason for a period of 21 days reviewable weekly. The country is currently experiencing 116 outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), involving farms, feedlots and communal areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northwest, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Free State Provinces,” Ngcobo said.

The Minister acknowledged the efforts made by farmers, communities, and industries to curb illegal movements of animals from known positive areas, and to improve biosecurity on animal holdings.

However, the disease continues to spread, with 15 new properties and two new provinces affected in the last two weeks alone.

The ban will be declared in Government Gazette and any disregard for the movement ban was a criminal offense. The exception will only be upon veterinary permit for:(i) Cattle for direct slaughter at registered abattoirs and (ii) Slaughter for ritual purposes.

“Cattle that are already at shows, auctions and enroute into the republic will be given 48 hours to be permitted to move to final destination after being sold, the local state veterinary office should be contacted for these permits” said Didiza.

Didiza warned perpetrators that were illegally moving cattle that they would be prosecuted for contravention of the Animal Diseases Act, 1984 (Act no 35 of 1984).

The Minister said she recognised the disruption that the movement ban would cause in the normal business of many sectors.

“For this reason, the ban is only applicable to cattle, as the movement of cattle was identified as the main cause of the continued spread of the outbreaks. However, the public is reminded that all cloven-hoofed animals can spread Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, and the movement of sheep, goats, pigs, and cloven-hoofed game animals should also be handled with the necessary caution.”

Animals showing suspicious clinical symptoms (salivation, blisters in the mouth, limping or hoof lesions) must not be moved under any circumstances. Members of the public were advised to contact their District State Veterinary Services or their private veterinarians immediately.

Last month, Roelie van Reenen, supply chain executive at the Beefmaster Group, a leading specialist supplier of beef products to South Africa and global markets, said that if FMD was not brought under control, the ramifications for the entire industry would be dire.

“The threat that FMD poses to the cattle industry is tremendous. All industry role-players need to take seriously their responsibility to help limit the spread of the disease as much as possible, as we cannot expect government authorities alone to clamp down on it. We simply have to stop it from spreading further, ” van Reenen said then.

He said that one way to do this is to limit the movement of cattle, and, when buying cattle, to insist on veterinary inspections and sign-off.

Van Reenen added that many industry role players had already gone to great lengths at feedlots and farms to try to limit or prevent the outbreak of disease, for example, with the installation of bubble or isolation hubs with the opportunity to do more.

Information courtesy of IOL Business Report