New livestock import rules: the nitty-gritty explained

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Here we come… Namibian livestock can now again be exported to South Africa under much easier terms after the neighbouring country – Namibia’s biggest export market – announced relaxed import rules last Friday.

Windhoek

Hot on the heels of New Era Weekend having reported on Saturday that South Africa has relaxed its stringent livestock regulations, New Era can today publish details of the revised import rules, which will hopefully make life a lot easier for drought-stricken Namibian producers.

As the good news of much relief spread like wildfire through Namibia’s N$2 billion per annum livestock export industry the agricultural ministry explained the most vital changes in the original rules, which were implemented on July 1 and brought exports to a standstill.

Namibia exported annually close to 200 000 weaners, 90 000 sheep and 250 000 goats to SA before the strict new rules announced in 2014 brought a halt to all this. Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Sophy Kasheeta says the less stringent regulations became effective last Friday for Namibian cattle, sheep and goats for export to SA.

The issuance of the long awaited, less stringent import conditions for all cattle, sheep and goats from Namibia are intended for direct slaughter and feedlot purposes.

Four South African facilities have been approved under the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP’s), which may receive animals. For now, four facilities in SA have been approved by the ministry to receive such animals, and more facilities are expected to be added in the near future.

The four approved facilities are Cartol Abattoir (Western Cape), GWK Meat Abattoir, GWK Meat Feedlot and Rooidag Abattoir, all in the Northern Cape. The Department of Veterinary Services in SA also confirmed that there are still 15 application submitted for approval by SA facilities, which also include cattle facilities.

The accreditation of these facilities means that the requirements are not so strict on the import permits. The most important aspect – which is omitted – is the compulsory testing for Brucellosis and double testing of Tuberculosis (TB). This means smallstock do not have to be tested anymore and that cattle only have to be tested for TB once within the 30 days before export.

For the export of livestock –
• The exporter must apply to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (DAFF) in Pretoria for a new veterinary Import permit;
• All livestock must be properly identified with all official NAMLits ear tags for cattle, sheep and goat. As soon as the NAMLits system is properly programmed for the sale of double ear tags for sheep and goats, this requirement will also be valid for sheep and goats;
• The Veterinary Import Permit must be certified by a local state vet in Namibia;
• At the border the exporter must declare the freight at the veterinary officials of both countries;
• The veterinarian official in SA will then issue a red cross permit from the border to the final destination where the arrangements then will be made by the owner of the facility (feed lot or abattoir) to receive the freight and break the seal.

PS Kasheeta made an appeal to all exporters of livestock to strictly export animals according to these measures so as not to endanger this very sensitive trade agreement. The appeal is also supported by the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) management.
Producers New Era spoke to over the weekend, all expressed the hope that this development will bring relief to the farming community and exporters, as the new permit reduces the need for compulsory pre-export Brucella testing and double TB testing.

Chairperson of LPO Mecki Schneider welcomed the move, describing it as “very, very good news for every Namibian producer at a time when weaner prices have dropped to an all-time low of below N$10 p/kg at local auctions. Such prices make farming unrealistic and unsustainable.

Many farmers are on their knees as the border has practically been closed for them since 2014 when SA overnight implemented the new regulations. Namibian producers have been struggling in a time of severe drought and closed borders, but now they have something to look forward to again.

“All we need now is good rains and we will be back on track with our common vision for the future. It’s a pity that the process took so long and soaked up so much money and so many resources, but we’re delighted and thrilled. This was a huge team effort from all role players in Namibia,” he noted.

The stringent new regulations rocked the N$2 billion sector on July 1 as implementation thereof came at the height of the annual weaner auction season, when more than 70 percent of communal farmers rely solely on the income of weaner sales for a livelihood.
Cattle prices also dropped steeply and auctions came to a standstill.

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