Or­gan­i­sa­tion mat­ters

T he crit­i­cal im­por­tance of an in­dus­try voice

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS - Dr Char­lotte Nkuna

It is un­be­liev­able that we are al­ready in the mid­dle of 2017, with half of the year al­most gone. Avi­africa is also upon us, an­other sig­nal that the year is fly­ing past. We are hop­ing that this year will see the egg in­dus­try get­ting back to form and mak­ing its way to its pre­vi­ous, but bet­ter, self. Pro­duc­ers are still grappling with a lot of is­sues and SAPA is com­mit­ted to work­ing to­gether to find so­lu­tion that as­sists pro­duc­ers to fo­cus on farm­ing. These are some of the is­sues be­ing grap­pled with.

The egg mar­ket

The pre­vi­ous year was very chal­leng­ing for egg pro­duc­ers. Farm­ers saw feed price in­creases of a min­i­mum of R1000 per ton be­tween Jan­uary and Au­gust 2016 due to the drought. At the same time, be­tween Jan­uary and April 2016, egg prices dropped sub­stan­tially, the re­sult of which is ex­cess eggs on the mar­ket. It was very dif­fi­cult for farm­ers to cope with the high feed prices and low mar­ket prices for eggs. Farm­ers were un­able to re­cover any of the losses suf­fered as a re­sult of in­creases in the price of feed. This hard­ship re­sulted in the exit of many small scale farm­ers - those with be­tween 5 000 and 40 000 hen ca­pac­ity. Some farm­ers de­pleted their flocks early, mov­ing the aver­age de­ple­tion age from 74.8 weeks in 2015 to 71.8 weeks in 2016.

These fac­tors have re­sulted in a short­age of eggs. Con­sumers can ex­pect an in­crease in egg prices due to the short­age of eggs on the mar­ket. In­di­ca­tions are that prices are likely to in­crease. This sce­nario is likely to per­sist while farm­ers at­tempt to in­crease their pro­duc­tion to meet mar­ket de­mand.

DAFF ap­pointed in­spec­tions as­signees

SAPA has been en­gag­ing on be­half of its mem­bers with the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture Forestry Fish­eries (DAFF) ap­pointed as­signees who are set to per­form qual­ity in­spec­tions on be­half of the depart­ment. In line with the pro­vi­sions of the Agri­cul­ture Prod­uct Stan­dards Act No. 119 of 1990, DAFF ap­pointed as­signees to con­duct in­spec­tion on its be­half. The Agency for Food Safety and Qual­ity (AFSQ) has been ap­pointed as the as­signee for poul­try meat and eggs. The gazetted fees are 1,8 cents per dozen eggs. It is not clear yet whether this is per eggs pro­duced or in­spected. The va­lid­ity of the rates was from 1 March 2017.

There were lots of ob­jec­tions from the in­dus­try with re­gard to the fees, pro­posed billing, lack of clar­ity on the fre­quency of in­spec­tions, in­spec­tion points, as well as the sam­pling pro­to­col. Other con­cerns were around the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of pro­duc­ers and re­tail­ers should the in­spec­tions be car­ried out at re­tailer level. A fol­low up meet­ing was held on 20 April 2017, where re­vised fees were com­mu­ni­cated. The re­vised fee went down from 1,8 cents to 1,2 cents per dozen.

There were still con­cerns as to how the fee was cal­cu­lated, since by their own ad­mis­sion, AFSQ would not get to all the sites in month one and two, with maybe 100% of the sites prob­a­bly only reached by month three. The as­signee pro­jected they would be in­voic­ing the pack sta­tions on an­nual pro­duc­tion. This sim­ply means that pro­duc­ers would be billed for en­tire pro­duc­tion whether they are in­spected or not. It also seemed that the pro­posed rates were much higher than what pro­duc­ers are able to af­ford.

SAPA or­gan­ised an­other meet­ing with the as­signee where all egg pro­duc­ers were in­vited. At this meet­ing, pro­duc­ers raised their con­cerns but most had to do with the pro­posed fees. It was agreed at that meet­ing that the as­signee would relook the fees and see where sav­ings would be pos­si­ble. SAPA wrote a let­ter to DAFF re­quest­ing that a dis­pen­sa­tion be granted un­til such time that the con­cerns raised are re­solved. This will allow in­dus­try to en­gage with the as­signee and DAFF to look at the sam­pling and es­tab­lish the min­i­mum re­quired vis­its for the as­signee to ful­fil its man­date.

Cage size in­creases pro­pos­als

For the last while, egg pro­duc­ers have been been en­gaged on the is­sue of cage sizes. There is a dis­cus­sion on the ta­ble with re­gard to in­creas­ing the cage sizes from 450cm² per bird to 550cm² per bird. SAPA is propos­ing a di­a­logue with pro­duc­ers to es­tab­lish the pro­duc­ers’ stand­point on the is­sue. SAPA will then en­deav­our to com­mu­ni­cate the pro­duc­ers’ wishes to the South African Bu­reau of Stan­dards (SABS) and the Na­tional So­ci­ety for Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals (NSPCA) as they de­velop the new wel­fare stan­dards for poul­try. The first meet­ing will be held in the Western Cape on 25 May 2017; the sec­ond in Gaut­eng; and the third in Kwazulu-natal. A res­o­lu­tion will then be passed at congress dur­ing Avi­africa in June 2017. SAPA will only carry out the wishes of its mem­bers and will there­fore en­deav­our to ful­fil the mem­bers’ in­struc­tions. We in­vite you to be part of this process and en­gage with us so we can craft a way for­ward to­gether.

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