Meat producers back export ban
Bloemfontein - The Red Meat Producers' Organisation (RPO) supports the preliminary suspension of all exports of cloven-hoofed animals from South Africa, it said on Tuesday.
RPO manager Gerhard Schutte said South Africa was a net importer of meat and that less than 1% of the country's meat was exported.
On Monday, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that there was a suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
"The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has picked up some suspect positive serological results for foot-and-mouth disease," Joemat-Pettersson told a press conference at parliament.
She said over 600 animals had been tested and 50% of them were found to be positive.
"The RPO supports the state in relation to the temporary suspension of exports of cloven-hoofed animals and products, while the extent of the problem was being investigated," Schutte said in a statement.
The RPO said that when the reach of the disease had been established, it would negotiate with the department to declare the rest of the country foot-and-mouth-free areas.
Schutte reiterated that foot-and-mouth disease does not affect people.
"Meat that is bought in the formal trade is safe for humans," he said.
Schutte urged farmers to check up on their biosecurity systems.