Concerns over future of farming

2011-05-09 00:00

AGRI SA, the commercial farmers’ union, has expressed concern about the future of agriculture as land policy changes and new legislation threaten the productivity of commercial farms.

Last month the organisation hosted a meeting with the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, to voice their concerns and initiate a collaboration to improve land reform.

Among the issues discussed were the thorny Land Tenure Security Bill and the Green Paper on land reform, which comes before Parliament in June this year.

Annelize Crosby, the legal and policy advisor for Agri SA, said the Land Tenure Security Bill could create unintended consequences if permitted to stand in its current form.

The bill would give farm dwellers unlimited rights that could disrupt farming operations and place an unbearable financial burden on farmers, Crosby said.

“The idea that commercial farming should be made more accessible to previously disadvantaged people is supported by Agri SA, but the idea that it can be achieved by allowing other people’s existing commercial farms to be used in order to do so, is not.”

She said the farms have limited resources and few farms can sustain multiple and diverse farming operations on the same land.

“The bill will not promote and create greater food security; nor will it create jobs and contribute positively to the country’s economy.

“It is an issue of national importance and priority that South Africa’s productive commercial farms are not impeded from feeding the nation’s people,” Crosby added.

She said the Green Paper has not been released and many of the issues reportedly addressed in the paper are speculative.

Crosby said commercial farmers are concerned about the land reform process, which is plagued by problems.

She said a more integrated approach involving the government and her organisation would improve the process.

“Resolving the land reform process is essential and the gap between the government and organised agriculture approaches to the issue should be narrowed as we are both trying to achieve the same goal.”

In a statement, Nkwinti said he does not believe the policy changes being considered will change the production structure of commercial farms.

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