Relief package for poultry farmers on the way after sustained DA pressure

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
27 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

Exactly a week after officials from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) rejected an impassioned plea from South African Poultry Association (SAPA) delegates to the Portfolio Committee and the DA to come to the rescue of farmers who have been hard hit by the avian flu outbreak, the government has made a sudden U-turn and a relief package for poultry farmers will be announced soon.

The DA welcomes the commitment by the Deputy President, Paul Mashatile – while answering questions in the NCOP, that Minister Thoko Didiza will soon be making an announcement for a support and relief package for farmers who have been impacted by the avian flu outbreak.

South Africa’s poultry industry has been devastated by the disease outbreak and it did not make sense for the government to stand on the sidelines as entire operations faced the risk of bankruptcy and job losses. Farmers need support to recoup the losses incurred and rebuild their operations sustainably.

While appearing before the Parliament portfolio Committee of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development last week Friday– officials from the Department rejected SAPA and DA pleas for government to support poultry farmers arguing that they did not have the resources to do so and neither were they obliged to give compensatory support.

The DA made the point that, with the extensive bird culling taking place to prevent the spread of the disease, it will take the poultry industry a significant amount of time to recover from the losses. This is precisely why it is important that disaster funding is made available as a matter of urgency to support poultry farmers.

Besides, the ongoing flu outbreak could have been easily contained if the government did not drop the ball and failed to draw lessons from the last outbreak in 2017. Five years ago, the former Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) made the cardinal mistake of refusing to procure vaccines for chickens and pursue an industry wide vaccination drive.

The DA looks forward to the announcement of the relief package for poultry farmers and we will not accept token assistance disguised as compensatory relief. Minister Didiza should work with the industry to develop a comprehensive support package that would enable farmers to rebuild their operations without incurring huge amounts of debt.

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