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  • The Carbon Tax Bill will come into effect in from 1 June 2019 – bringing added costs for some South Africans.

  • The final destruction of the economy and the country is now after the election results are out much clearer than most people realise. There can now be no doubt that the ANC government, with its political and economic ideology, will finally destroy all the country's resources, assets and reserves within the next 5 years, says independent agricultural economist Fanie Brink.

    DOWNLOAD THE FULL ARTICLE on the TOP of the PAGE in PDF format. 

  • With South Africa’s meat prices being in deflation over the past few months, one would easily assume that the beef industry has recovered from the 2015/16 drought which led to a reduction in the herd. Figure 1 illustrates South Africa’s cattle herd, and boy, we are not back to levels we were before the drought.

    So, where did the illusion that cattle herd has somewhat recovered come from?

    You see, the years following this period of higher cattle slaughtering when farmers couldn’t feed their stock — 2017 and 2018 — was for rebuilding the herds, which meant a reduction in slaughtering pace. This process was reflected on meat prices, which at the time were rising double digits, particularly from February 2017 until March 2018. Thereafter, we started to see some cooling off in meat prices, as slaughtering activity, on a monthly basis, began to gain momentum, albeit not back at levels during 2015/16 drought. In March 2019, South Africa’s meat prices were actually in deflation, registering -1.1%, according to data from Stats SA.

    But the factors leading to the deflation in meat prices wasn’t a recovery in slaughtering activity, but the ban on South Africa’s red meat exports following the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo earlier in the year. The theory at the time, simplistically, was that a ban on exports would lead to increased domestic meat supplies, and therefore a decline in prices. It had less to do with the herd rebuilding progress.

    Because of this, the meat price deflation story could soon be over because of the following. First, a number of African and Middle East countries have recently lifted the ban on South Africa’s beef exports.  This means the impact of the foot-and-mouth disease might not be as severe as initially expected. Second, it is worth noting that South Africa’s cattle slaughtering activity is slowing, and this could add support to prices in the near term. Third, aside from red meat, poultry products prices could lift somewhat in the coming months, as there is likely to be an uptick in import tariffs.


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  • The draft National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS), which according to the Department of Environmental Affairs provides a “common vision of climate change adaptation and climate resilience for the country", has been published for public comment.

  • The lack of access to healthy food is both a cause and a symptom of the structural inequalities that exist in South Africa and slow progress in introducing stricter regulations for the food industry, Healthy Living Alliance’s Lawrence Mbalati writes.
     
    In a country like South Africa — with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality — food justice is only the beginning of a long conversation for addressing socio-economic rights. The historical injustices of people in South Africa remain geographically, socially and economically isolated from the conversation the country is having about healthy food options.

    The increasing supply of unhealthy food to South Africans resulted in almost four out of ten South African women being obese, and close to 70% are overweight. The increasing rates of obesity are the leading cause of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and stroke — which places a higher burden on an already strained public health system, the economy and results in preventable deaths. The endless options of highly processed food, obscure labels and aggressive advertising by the food industry disempower consumers from choosing healthier meals.

    Food justice is the belief that healthy food is a human right, and that everyone has an inherent right to access healthy food. This comes with the hope that we can begin to use food justice as a powerful strategy for mobilising society to achieve an overall just community. More important, food is a central part of our daily lives and in the absence of effective policies that regulate the food industry, redress for consumers remains a pipe dream.

    It is critical to locate the need for food justice and effective regulation of the food industry by using the existing infrastructure in South Africa. The country’s 2018 listeriosis outbreak was the worst of its kind in history and claimed the lives of more than 200 people, including 76 babies. After months of searching, the Department of Health revealed in March 2018 that the source of the outbreak was an Enterprise factory, a subsidiary of Tiger Brands, in Polokwane.

    But the response from Tiger Brands was nothing short of arrogant — while they haven’t denied responsibility, they have refused to be held fully liable.

    In December, the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court of South Africa granted an order permitting a class action lawsuit to be brought against Tiger Brands by Richard Spoor Inc Attorneys. The class action is brought on behalf of those sickened by Listeria-tainted polony and the families of those who lost loved ones.

    Effectively, this case is simply about getting Tiger Brands to pay the victims that have suffered as a result of contracting listeriosis.

    It was only after a national outcry that Tiger Brands recalled the infected batches of polony and called for studies to find the causes of the outbreak. The government stated the crisis was over, but listeriosis-infected polony was still found in rural areas across the country.

    This has all exposed that big food companies, such as Tiger Brands, can continue to supply consumers with infected or unhealthy food linked with morbidity and mortality, for as long as it makes a profit. We could be in danger of future food-borne diseases due to lack of effective food regulation and control.

    The lawsuit has been narrowed down to represent four key groups: People who were infected with listeriosis but did not die; babies who contracted listeriosis while in utero, but survived; those who were dependent on the individual who died as a result of listeriosis, and those who are looking after people who contracted listeriosis.

    At this stage the quantum of damages claimed is unspecified as the first stage of the class action is concerned with liability. Only after liability has been ascertained will the quantum of damages be dealt with, and only if the court finds that the company is liable.

    This case highlights weaknesses in the current South African regulations to protect consumers’ access to healthy food, and in the case of the listeriosis outbreak, resulted in further and unnecessary illnesses and loss of lives. The class action also demonstrates consumers’ vulnerabilities when it comes to access to safe and healthy food and exposes the industry greed which is often driven by profit margins and monopoly.

    One year on after more than 200 people lost their lives to listeriosis, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) has still not implemented the specifications for processed meat products. The Minister of Trade and Industry should be held responsible to ensure the NRCS does its job to protect the health, safety and environment of consumers. The fact that the food industry delayed specifications by four years, and we still don’t have specifications a year after the outbreak, is telling. The department is not doing enough to put in place and enforce regulations to stop greedy companies from threatening our health and safety.

    But instead, the government enables Big Food to figuratively and literally get away with murder.

    Civil society and communities need to join hands to demand public awareness and support for tighter regulations in order to shine a national spotlight on the truth. Another outbreak could be on our doorstep and it’s clear Big Food companies like Tiger Brands aren’t worried, because they care more about their profits than our health.

    Activists need to put pressure on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure that there is a speedy implementation of processed meat product regulations that the food industry has delayed for a long time. This will ensure that there are proper checks and balances in place that force industry to put the health of South Africa’s most vulnerable people first.

    But, for now, the only reprieve and remedies consumers have at their disposal for food justice, protection and redress are lodging complaints to the office of the Consumer Protector, guided by the South African National Consumer Protection Act.

  • Warmer than normal conditions will continue over the interior during the next few days.

  • In a cruel irony in the Chinese Year of the Pig, outbreaks of African Swine Fever are forcing huge culls that could send pork prices to levels never seen before.

  • The transportation of both Kangnas Wind Farm and Perdekraal East Wind Farm’s turbine tower sections have commenced, making their way from the West Coast’s Port of Saldanha and Atlantis.

  • Prices are low at the moment. Tomatoes prices have decreased 32% w/w, cabbage prices decreased 19% w/w, carrots prices decreased
    13% w/w and potatoes prices decreased 13% w/w.

  • Drought conditions could reduce the South African corn crop by 20% this year, presenting short-term demand shortfalls in the region. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recently sent a team to South Africa to explore the situation firsthand and identify opportunities for exports of U.S. corn and sorghum.

  • Winter is coming. If you want to fight off the cold, here are twelve of the best red wines from South Africa’s top wine estates.
    Allée Bleue Blue Owl Merlot

  • Extreme heat has gripped the northern hemisphere in recent months, and the year 2018 is on track to be among the hottest ever recorded. Higher global temperatures are expected to have detrimental effects on our natural environments and our physical health, but what will they do to our mental health? 

  • ’Its been a year since South African goat farmers came under scrutiny from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia. The films PETA released, alleging unethical and cruel practices in the mohair industry, led to hundreds of clothing and home furnishing retailers refusing to use South African angora wool.

  • One of the questions I am often asked is whether the US-China trade friction presents any opportunities in the near term that South Africa’s agricultural sector can explore.

  • “The dream was to build a farm that would be a model of black farming excellence with farm workers and others in the valley.”

  • If we do not write about South Africa’s first quarter of 2019 agricultural trade figures, one would assume that there have been limited positive developments in this sector as the past few months have been clouded by unwelcoming news.

  • The international corn market experienced high levels of volatility this week as the wet weather continues to delay plantings. The price of US corn increased by 2.9% week-on-week with the premium for white corn up by 124.3% from US$3.44/ton last week.

  • If I do not write about South Africa’s first quarter of 2019 agricultural trade figures, one would assume that there have been limited positive developments in this sector as the past few months have been clouded by unwelcoming news.

  • With South Africa’s avocado season now well underway, the current forecast for exports is up from the initial estimate.

  • The serious problems suffered by the Spanish citrus sector are not only due to circumstantial causes arising from competition from third countries, but they also have revealed structural challenges that Spain must address.

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