Concern has been expressed that Covid-19 lockdown regulations for agricultural auctions are problematic and confusing.
CONCERN has been expressed that Covid-19 lockdown regulations for agricultural auctions are problematic and confusing.
The DA said on Thursday that the party had been inundated with complaints and questions from farmers about auctions after they were stopped by police for being against regulations.
“There are news reports about farmers being harassed by police, whether at roadblocks or auctions,” the DA spokesperson for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Annette Steyn, said.
Steyn called for livestock auctions to be allowed to continue, with only 100 people permitted to attend and following strict social distancing measures. “The farming community should also look to use virtual bidding as an option to limit the number of people who gather,” she said.
Steyn called for regulations around auctions to be published immediately.
“The Department of Agriculture surely has experts who understand how life on a farm works. Surely the department has some sense that without the proper infrastructure, work grinds to a halt. Why is it then that farmers travelling to maintain infrastructure are stopped from doing so? When drafting regulations, the department should consult with experts and take their advice on board.”
She added that the party had also heard of numerous instances where farmers with valid permits were forced to pay bribes in order to do their work because police officers claimed that they did not have the necessary permits to travel.
“We once again call on the department to open their offices to help with the issuing of permits for farmers. This will ensure that they have the correct permits to travel and will alleviate extra stress in that regard.”
Steyn stated that the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, needed to urgently address these discrepancies in the regulations.
“The third week of the Covid-19 lockdown has come and gone, and still there is no clarity for the agriculture sector. Most farmers charged with the vital service of food security do not qualify for financial aid during the crisis. And they are being actively hampered to perform their job and access relief.”
The deadline for farmers to apply for relief funding from the department was on Wednesday.
“The DA urges the minister to re-open the process to countless farmers left in the lurch, to expand the relief effort to include farmers with turnover up to R100 million and to ensure that all relevant farmers receive the necessary help.
“The agriculture sector has already been dealt devastating blows with the drought and foot-and-mouth disease earlier this year.”