Meatco yesterday confirmed that the Okapuka feedlot – host to some 8 000 cattle – has, as a result of numerous consultations between the Meatco Board and the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), been conditionally reopened for slaughter and animal movement to and from the premises.
The facility has also been reopened for the marketing of feedlot products within the region and to markets outside the European Union.
This brings to an end a seven-week spat between Meatco and DVS after the feedlot was shut down on September 2 when minute traces of the growth stimulant zeranol were found in the urine of two bulls after 22 animals were tested.
Meatco yesterday said it wishes to inform and reassure the Namibian nation, farmers, producers and stakeholders that it is working tirelessly to resolve the technicalities in respect of the closure of the Okapuka feedlot on September 2 by DVS in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Jethro Kwenani, corporate communication officer at Meatco, yesterday told New Era that the Meatco Board, with due cognisance of the serious and potentially crippling impact a closed feedlot will have on the business as a going concern, the farmers, producers, the local meat industry, and regional and international markets, and with due consideration of all the risks and facts, adopted an approach to resolve the issue in a structured, responsible, unfettered and professional manner.
“We furthermore confirm that consultations are ongoing [on a daily basis] and we are confident that the matter will be resolved urgently, the imposed conditions lifted, and the product cleared for EU/international marketing.
Additional sampling and testing by DVS and its EU-based counterpart and contracted laboratory are currently underway on both feed and urine. DVS undertook to expedite same and provide screening results feedback by 21 October 2016. We will duly provide our stakeholders and producers with further updates on the outcome of the process at the appropriate time. We assure our stakeholders that Meatco did not deliberately administer zeranol and/or its metabolites. Trace residues on two urine samples were in our informed opinion caused by a chemical process within the animals’ rumen, triggered by the intake of a naturally occurring Fusarium fungus within the feed.
“We furthermore confirm that we will consult widely within the industry on the reduction of the producer price. We are bound, as a responsible corporate citizen, to operate within the provisions of our enabling Act, Meatco Act 2001, local laws and statutes and those of our trading partner countries to ensure our top quality Namibian beef not only meets, but exceeds the requirements of the responsible authorities and by extension those of our customers,” Meatco said.
Meatco has lost some N$35 million since the closure of the feedlot early last month.
Meatco yesterday warned that the closure of the feedlot could lead to a huge drop in producer prices.