Pretoria - SA's failure to secure its borders has cost the country millions in lost export income, AgriSA president Johannes Möller said on Thursday.
The outbreak of foot and mouth disease in northern KwaZulu-Natal was attributable to the country's porous borders, he told reporters.
"We have stressed over a number of years that the lack of integrity on our borders will cost us dearly. This has happened now."
He described South Africa's failure to secure its borders as "an expensive lesson", although he said it was too early to quantify how much the outbreak had cost the country.
Following the outbreak, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in February announced a ban on all exports from South Africa of cloven-hoofed animals and their products.
This meant that even the Cape's wool industry had been affected.
Möller said the government needed to ensure the country again achieved foot-and-mouth disease-free status. There were concerns over the fact that a vaccine had yet to be developed for the current strain of the disease.
KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union president Robin Barnsley called the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho "a sieve". He said an ongoing dispute with people living around the Ndumo Game Reserve had resulted in fences being cut.
He said it was critical for the dispute to be resolved so that fences remained intact, to prevent infected animals freely crossing the border.
Möller said AgriSA was hoping to have a meeting with Joemat-Pettersson and her provincial counterparts.