Letter: Farmers on their own in foot and mouth outbreak - Businesslive

17 August 2022 - Largely unnoticed by the public, a nationwide prohibition on the transport of cattle is in effect — with the exception of those being sent to registered abattoirs for slaughter (“Minister bans cattle movement as foot and mouth spreads,” August 16).

Largely unnoticed by the public, a nationwide prohibition on the transport of cattle is in effect — with the exception of those being sent to registered abattoirs for slaughter (“Minister bans cattle movement as foot and mouth spreads,” August 16).

This is a drastic step and has been taken in an effort to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease. This condition is a perennial threat to farming operations, and with it SA’s own supply of foodstuffs and the farming sector’s access to export markets. A report by Stats SA earlier in 2022 aptly stated that “the disease is relentless. It spreads rapidly and is highly contagious.”

It bears noting that the vaccines for the disease are strictly and tightly controlled by the government, and are only available through official channels. It has been a long-standing concern for the farming community that the government is frequently not up to the task. Vaccines are often not available in sufficient quantities, and when disasters hit, unclear lines of authority confuse the response.

As one industry representative told the Institute of Race Relations during an outbreak in 2020: “The government doesn’t have the capacity to do this.” This must be seen alongside the failure of other biosecurity measures, such as maintaining fences along national parks, or indeed taking action against vandalism and illegal grazing.

All of this illustrates the inability of the state to meet not only its own responsibilities but those it has consciously reserved for itself. Meanwhile, farmers and farming communities will have to navigate this as best they can. In a time of inflation and economic hardship this should concern us all.

Terence Corrigan, Project manager, Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2022-08-17-letter-farmers-on-their-own-in-foot-and-mouth-outbreak/

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