Agri SA asked government to clarify its stance on livestock auctions following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of an adjusted level 4 lockdown. The agricultural organisation found government’s published regulation to be confusing.
In his address, Ramaphosa said that all gatherings were strictly banned for the next 14 days. The only exception was funerals which were now limited to 50 guests. Also, the regulations specify: “Gatherings at auctions are not permitted.”
“Does it mean that auctions may take place but people may not gather together? Which auctions are applicable here?” asks Christo van der Rheede, executive director of Agri SA.
The organisation furthermore questions whether this references only property auctions and other assets, or farm auctions too.
“Agri SA wants clarity,” says Van der Rheede. “The fact that agriculture was declared an essential service requires that livestock auctions should continue. What about livestock auctions that have already been scheduled?”
Concern over virtual auctions
Agri SA also wants to know how practical it is when the presence of people was restricted.
“Auctions are vital to the survival of the livestock industry. Further pressure will pose particular risks for the livestock industry, the consumer, as well the availability of meat products.”
Where possible, auctions will now have to be held virtually to continue meeting the demand for livestock. Van der Rheede, however, believes that this is not possible in all cases.
“What effect will the restrictions on gatherings at auctions in rural areas have, especially for commercial and emerging farmers and the communities who are dependent on these farmers for their meat?” he questions.
Agri SA is also seriously concerned about the impact of the total ban on wine and broader alcoholic beverage industry. The economic impact of the regulations on restaurants, tourism and others, such as the game industry, will further aggravate their situation, the agricultural body believes.