DA calls for more stringent enforcement of foot-and-mouth curtailment measures

DA calls for more stringent enforcement of foot-and-mouth curtailment measures

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for more stringent enforcement of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) curtailment measures in the province following a recent outbreak that has devastated local farmers.

The disease, a controlled and notifiable disease under the Animal Diseases Act, is highly contagious and can decimate entire herds of livestock, resulting in huge economic losses for farmers. Yet, despite the recent outbreaks in Humansdorp and Buffalo City and the significant risks that the disease poses, the provincial Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform has been slow to respond.

While measures have been taken, including quarantining farms where the disease has been identified, the department has not been enforcing protocols.

For example, the “Stop and Go” Control points are often unmanned and not fully operational. It has been left to the farmers to implement preventative measures such as disinfecting vehicles.

This is totally unacceptable!

Farmers are rightly frustrated by the delay in implementing stricter animal movement protocols, fearing the disease could spread further. Tests in May identified a second outbreak 28km from the original farms, with no clear link, raising concerns that the disease may be more widely circulated within the province.

It is also vitally important that municipalities enforce local bylaws in terms of managing stray animals to prevent the spread of this disease.

When FMD was identified in six provinces in 2022, including the Eastern Cape, national beef exports declined 12%. The Eastern Cape, with the country’s highest unemployment rate, simply cannot afford such losses.

The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform must provide support to ensure that proper inspection sites are set up and that vehicles moving between these areas are disinfected.

Time is running out!

We must take hands and work together — government, farmers, and the private sector — to tackle this matter head-on.

The DA has written to the MEC of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nonceba Kontsiwe, to request her urgent intervention to ensure proper measures are taken to stop this disease from spreading further in our Province. To this end, I have also asked that she engage her counterpart, COGTA MEC Zolile Williams, to ensure that local municipalities play their part by enforcing bylaws regarding the management of stray animals.

I have also asked that an action plan be tabled, setting out the steps and support provided to these farmers to mitigate the potential financial losses that can and will be suffered.

The DA will continue fighting to rescue our agricultural sector from this disease and to safeguard employment in this sector.