Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill, Plant Improvement Bill & Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill: discussion; Departmental briefing on poultry issues

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

28 April 2015
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said all the issues which had been raised by the Committee regarding the Performing Animals Protection Amendment (PAPA) Bill had been considered by the Department’s technical team.

Concerns had been raised that the “Objects of the Bill” were inconsistent with the original Bill. They had therefore tried to reword the Objects of the Bill. There had also been a concern over the use of the term “Any Animal” which was used in the Bill, without qualifying which animals were involved. DAFF had also considered this matter and wished to clarify that the definition of an “Animal” remained the same definition as in the Principal Act. There was a lack of specific expertise, experience and knowledge within government to inspect a particular premise of certain animals in order to make a decision on the issuance of a licence, and DAFF was specifically concerned that there may be a shortage of skills within government when it came to wild animals

There was lengthy debate over whether the Bill was a Section 75 (National Assembly) or Section 76 (National Council of Provinces) Bill. A Member said the Department had to remember that the Bill had to be implementable, and that would be the responsibility of the provinces. This was why the Committee was concerned about the Bill being a Section 76 Bill. Members also needed a further explanation as to why the Bill should not be referred to the House of Traditional Leaders. The State Law Advisors’ opinion that the Bill was a Section 75 Bill was based on whether the Bill fell within a functional area listed in Schedule 4 of the Constitution, and the impact of the relevant provisions of the Bill had to be assessed in determining whether the Bill substantially affected the provinces. They found that it would not be necessary to refer the Bill to the National House of Traditional Leaders as the Bill did not contain provisions relating to customary law or customs of traditional communities.

Discussion on the Plant Breeder’s Rights Bill and the Plant Improvement Bill dealt with issues such as the definition of a breeder, whether the period of validity of a breeder’s rights could be manipulated through the operation of a will, and the economic importance of a plant breeder’s right. Again, there was considerable debate over whether the Bill was a Section 75 or 76, with the Committee Chairperson saying there was a confusion regarding the Bills -- the PAPA Bill was a Section 75, but the Breeder’s Bill was a Section 76, even though the role of the provinces was more evident in the PAPA Bill.

The revision of poultry regulations was also discussed, with reference to brining levels. The revision stemmed from requests made from the SA Poultry Association (SAPA), South African Revenue Services, Pick ‘n Pay, the Red Meat Organisation and the Portfolio Committee over concerns such as poor quality products as a result of excessive treatment, excessive moisture loss during thawing and cooking, and product weight gain. The present regulations prescribed a maximum eight percent treatment level for whole carcasses, and many stakeholders in the industry favoured this level. However, the Department of Health, SAPA and Astral Foods had opted for zero percent, and Woolworths, Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay had been concerned about the perceived cost increase for consumers, and whether they would be able to afford the products. Members wanted the Department of Health to advise the Committee why it was opposed to brining, as the industry had indicated brining had no adverse health implications.

The Committee was also briefed by the DAFF on the situation regarding Avian Influenza in South Africa, in the light of the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 (AGOA), which had been originally adopted by the USA to encourage industrial development, to authorise a new trade policy in Africa and to improve relations with the United States. The legislation was due to be reviewed again in 2015, and the revisions would make it easier to become eligible -- it would focus on improving the future business environment in developing African countries. Some alleged that AGOA was in contradiction with the World Trade Organisation’s rules. South Africa was under a lot of pressure, as it had not received the go-ahead from the United States, and AGOA would be a great opportunity for South Africa for economic growth.

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on Performing Animals Protection Amendment (PAPA) Bill
Dr Tembile Songabe, Director of Veterinary Public Health, said the DAFF had presented the PAPA Bill to the Committee on 14 April 2015, at which Members and other parties had made some inputs, expressed some concerns, asked additional information and offered some suggestions concerning the Bill. DAFF’s technical team had considered all the issues and wished to respond. However, the responses offered were not fixed, but rather an indication as to how DAFF thought about the Bill, and it also sought some input from the Committee.

Concerns had been raised that the “Objects of the Bill” were inconsistent with the original Bill. They had therefore tried to reword the Objects of the Bill, as following:

“To amend the Performing Animals Protection Act, 1935, so as to insert certain definitions; to provide for the designation of a National Licensing Officer; to provide for a procedure for the application for a licence to exhibit and train performing animals or use of dogs for safeguarding; to provide for the functions of a National Licensing Officer; to provide for the issuance of licences; to provide for an appeals process; and to provide for matters connected herewith.” DAFF hoped that the concern had now been addressed with the new revision, but it also asked that the team of State Law Advisors, Parliamentary Legal Services and the Department’s legal services have a discussion and reword the revision to the satisfaction of everyone.

There had also been a concern on the use of the term “Any Animal” which was used in the Bill, without qualifying which animals were involved. DAFF had also considered this matter and wished to clarify that as the current amendment dealt with only section 2 and section 3, all other sections in the Principal Act remained unchanged, as they were not part of the judgment. In this regard, the definition of an “Animal” remained the same definition as in the Principal Act, meaning the definition of an Animal (Section 11 of the Performing Animals Protection Act (PAPA), 1935 (Act No. 24 of 1935), read with Section 1 of the Animal Protection Act, (APA), 1962, Act No. 71 of 1962:
“Animal” means any equine, bovine, sheep, goat, pig, fowl, ostrich, dog, cat, or other domestic animal or bird, or any wild animal or wild bird which was in captivity or under the control of any person.

Concerns had also been raised on Section 3D and 3E of the current Amendment Bill. These related to the potential loop-hole that could open the route for the appointment of “malicious persons” to potentially use their appointment to “victimise” certain industry stakeholders. The DAFF had considered the concern, and wished to clarify that Section 3D and 3E of the Bill were intended to assist DAFF and provinces where there was a lack of specific expertise, experience and knowledge within government to inspect a particular premise of certain animals in order to make a decision on issuance of a licence. DAFF was specifically concerned that there may be a shortage of skills within government when it came to wild animals. In this regard, the National Licensing Officer (NLO) may approach the Director General and request the appointment of such experts. The experts would be delegated by the NLO for such circumstances, for consultation and also where there was an appeal process that may require certain expertise.

Other concerns related to Section 3H of the current Amendment Bill. These related to the entering of the premises. DAFF would indicate that the inspection of premises would form an integral part of the application process – this would enable the official to gather adequate information so as to enable such an official to apply his/her mind regarding the issuance or decline of licences. All applicants must have their premises inspected. Entering of the premises by the NLO would be subject to the consent of the applicant, and it should also be noted that before issuance of a licence there would be minimum standards to be met.
 

In the Draft Bill which had been gazetted, the term “National Executive Officer (NEO)” had been used and stakeholders felt that this must be changed to “National Licensing Officer (NLO).” DAFF had agreed to the change. In the Draft Bill, the appointment of experts was originally done by the NEO, but stakeholders had felt that this must be the function of the Director General, at the request of the NLO. There had also been a request from stakeholders to insert Section 3L, “Validity of the licence,” and a request to delete Section 3F, “Renewal of licence,” and Section 3J, “Notices and Summons”.

The animals which were exempted from PAPA licencing, for Section 9 of the Principal Act, were:

  • Animals for military training
  • Animals for police training
  • Animals for sporting purposes
  • Animals for agricultural shows
  • Show horses
  • Show dogs
  • Show caged birds
  • Military or police tournaments
  • Gymkhanas
  • Safeguarding dogs by the South African Defence or the South African Police or the Prisons Service
  • Public Zoological Gardens

There had been a concern over the capacity of DAFF to carry out the functions, and the location of state veterinarians and animal scientists. Unfortunately, the current DAFF database on state veterinarians and animal scientists did not contain details of GPS coordinates. The map which they had was for 2010, and that was only for the state veterinarians, so an improved map showing the location of capacity would be provided later to reflect the status quo.

Other less obvious concerns raised by stakeholders were the mandate issue -- whether it should be done by DAFF or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), who the authors of the revised Bill would be, exemptions for a PAPA licence, the DAFF’s capacity to implement licences, the selection and expertise of the appeals board, and what the purpose of the PAPA would be. Further details about these concerns were included in the minutes of the stakeholders workshop that had been submitted to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the Committee had not received the minutes of the stakeholders sorkshop. Nthing had been submitted to them.
Ms Kanthi Nagiah, Chief Director of Legal Services, said the State Law Advisors (SLA) opinion that the Bill was a Section 75 Bill was based on the following:

  • Whether the Bill falls within a functional area listed in Schedule 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (the Constitution) (Tongoane case);
  • The impact of every/all the relevant provisions of the Bill must be assessed in determining whether the Bill substantially affects the provinces.

When this was applied to PAPA, the following was apparent:

  • The only reason PAPA was being amended was a result of the Constitutional Court judgment. The major issue was who was responsible for the issuing of the licence;
  • The Bill had placed the responsibility on the NLO, who was an official of the national department, and the NLO may in his/her discretion delegate this function to the province;
  • No provision in the Bill compelled the province to perform any such function. Therefore, no provision in the Bill significantly/substantially impacted the province;
  • It may be submitted that PAPA fell under the concurrent functions listed in Schedule 4 of the Constitution – Animal Control and Diseases and Nature Conservation. It would be incorrect, for reasons such as that:

The purpose of the Bill was to protect animals against abuse and was not for the control of animals and diseases. Further, the Bill cannot fall under the functional area of nature conservation because this refers to the protection of wildlife. The animals subject to the Bill would be under the control and in possession of the applicant for the licence. Such animals cannot be considered “wildlife” or wild animals.

The SLA also found that the Bill did not fall within Schedule 4. Given that the responsibility for the issuing of licences, and all other relevant provisions flowing therefrom resided with the national department, the Bill also did not substantially affect the provinces. The SLA also found that it would not be necessary to refer the Bill to the National House of Traditional Leaders, as the Bill did not contain provisions relating to customary law or customs of traditional communities.

Discussion
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked who had been responsible for the inspections before the Department took over, and why had it taken so long for the Department to respond to the Constitutional court regarding the Bill. She advised the Department that inspections should take place after a licence has been issued, and no visitations should be unannounced when an inspection took place. She asked if there may have been a lapse of responsibilities with what the SPCA had been doing. Where would the inspections take place -- where the animals were kept, or where they were put on display and performed?

Mr M Filtane (UDM) said there were inconsistencies on pages 5 and 10. The objective of the Bill included “exhibit and train performing animals or use of dogs for safeguarding”, but animals for police training had been exempted from the Bill when the police dogs were used for safeguarding themselves. Referring to bullet number 3 on page 11, he suggested that they should use the word ‘updated’ instead of “improved,” because the word “improved” gave the impression that the map which they had used first had been incorrect, when it needed only to be updated. Who was responsible for the consultation processes, because it was important to hear the inputs of the stakeholders?

The Chairperson made it clear to the Committee that it was their responsibility, not the Department’s, to oversee the public hearings.

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) asked for a further explanation as to why the Bill would not be tabled to the House of Traditional Leaders, because some traditional healers in the rural areas had dogs which they bred.

Mr Ramasodi replied that there had been a discussion on whether they should have merged the two Acts, or moved on with the Constitutional ruling, which was why so much time had been taken to respond to the ruling. They were committed to sending the minutes to the Committee regarding the workshop.

Dr Songabe said the minimum standards for applying for a licence would apply, and there would be a process which the applicants would have to go through as well. Once an applicant had been granted a licence, they would have to adhere to further provisions which would follow for a licence holder, as the inspections would also be on-going. The inspections had previously been done by magistrates in the different provinces, and people were complaining that one magistrate was stricter than another in a different city. Other magistrates took the initiative of forwarding applications to animal welfare bodies so that they could make the approvals. However, some processes had been deemed to be unfair, so the Department had decided to take over the inspection process.

Ms Nagiah said a substantial amount of the provisions in the Bill did not affect the House of Traditional Leaders.

Ms Yolande van Aswegen, State Law Advisor, said before considering whether the Bill should be tabled with the House of Traditional Leaders, they had looked at what the customary law was and had found that there was no link in the Bill with the definition of customary law. Secondly, they had looked at what the purpose of the Bill was and how the usage of animals would infringe on the provisions of the Bill.

The Chairperson said the Bill would not go through the House of Traditional Leaders, but that did not prevent traditional leaders from making proposals to the Committee during the public hearings.

Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) said he was confused, and asked for a further explanation of the reasons why the Bill was not being submitted to the House of Traditional Leaders.

Mr Filtane suggested that they replace “use of dog safeguarding” with “use of dogs for enhancing security,” which would make it broad and cover all aspects that were not clear.

Ms Steyn said she was concerned that after a licence has been issued, there was no further inspection to check whether the applicant was still complying with the regulations. There should be a database which would keep a record of people who had licences so that it would be easier to check how many people needed to renew their licences.

Mr Ramasodi said the issue around the change of “improve” to “updated” had been accepted.

Dr Songabe said they believed that there should be some kind of synergy between the Amendment and the Principal Bill to ensure that there were no inconsistencies. Once a licence had been issued, continuous inspections would take place.

Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said the NLO would have to delegate some responsibility to provinces, but they would have some kind of discretion as well as to what may be delegated, hence the Bill was a Section 75. There was no contradiction between the long title and section 9 -- the Amendment Bill had referred to ‘working’ animals, and in that same definition one could include animals which were used for performances and safeguarding.

Mr T Ramokhoase (ANC) said the Department had to remember that the Bill had to be implementable, and that would be the responsibility of the provinces. This was why the Committee was concerned about the Bill being a Section 76. Further, the Bill had to be written in such a way that the public would not be confused about what the implications were if they did not comply with the law.

Ms Nagiah said they never dealt with any practicalities regarding a Bill, but there were consultative processes which were quite lengthy. She added that she disagreed with Ms Ngema regarding the issue of the long title and Section 9, and agreed that the Department’s legal team would have to meet with Parliament’s legal team.

Dr Songabe said the Department had a budget of R55 million to carry out the services of animal welfare. Although it would be carrying out the inspections, they still had to abide by the by-laws of each municipality, so the way in which the function was carried out would differ for each city.

The Chairperson said she was not happy with the summary which had been given to them by the Department on the financial implications of the Bill.

Mr Ntombela said they planned on revising the financial implications, as well as which animals would be included in the budget.

The Chairperson said Parliament’s and the Department’s legal advisors should at all times consult with one another, especially when there were complex issues.

Responses on the Plant Breeder’s Rights Bill and Plant Improvement Bill
Dr Julian Jaftha, Chief Director of Plant Production and Health, said one of the responses suggested that the definition of a breeder could be simplified by referring to a natural or legal person. The DAFF thought that the presentation aimed to give examples of who may be considered a breeder, as it was usually assumed that the breeder was limited to researchers in public or private research institutions. Section 1 of the Plant Breeder’s Rights defined a breeder sufficiently broadly to include a person who bred, discovered and developed a variety, the employer of such persons and the successor in title of the two aforementioned categories of persons. Thus the definition was sufficiently broad to cover natural and legal persons.

Another response to the Bills had asked whether it was possible to manipulate the period of validity of a right through operation of a will, and the DAFF response was that Section 8 of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Bill provided for rights to be valid for periods between 20 to 30 years, depending on the particular kind of plant. A plant breeder’s right was considered an incorporeal thing assigned to a specific breeder, which could be transferred from one individual to another. If such a transfer happened through operation of a will, the validity period did not expire and be replaced by a new period. The original period subsisted from the starting period at which it had been first assigned.
A plant breeder’s right was granted in respect of the variety concerned, as opposed to the owner of the variety. This meant that the period of validity remained the same, even if the variety were to be transferred to a new owner through a will.

Another response was regarding the economic importance of a plant breeder’s right, and it had been advised that the Advisory Committee should include someone with economic expertise. The DAFF would accept this as a valid proposal, and would look into it and work with the SLA in considering it.

It had been asked if the Act provided for the protection of indigenous biological resources, which were often at the risk of biopiracy. The protection of resources fell outside the scope of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Bill or Plant Improvement Bill. However, section 16(6) of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Bill and section 28(7) of the Plant Improvement Bill provided for compliance to any other relevant legislation.

The Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Systems Bill, 2014, aimed among other things, to provide for the protection, promotion, development and management of indigenous knowledge systems; to provide for the management of rights of indigenous knowledge holders, and to provide for access and conditions of access to knowledge of indigenous communities.

Discussion
Ms Steyn said the Breeder’s Rights Bill was tagged as a Section 75 Bill, but there were no details as to how this had been decided. It seemed as if the Bill should be a Section 76. Also, what were the provinces’ roles in the Bill, because she had not found any sections in the Bill which related to the provinces?

Dr Jaftha replied that there were outlined financial implications, which amounted to R10.3 million for the Breeder’s Rights Bill and R7 million for the Plant Improvement Bill. These costs included services provided for capacity purposes. He added that the Department had provided a detailed report for the Advisory Committee on how they should assist the Registrar, and they were in the process of trying to secure financial resources for their unfunded mandates.

Ms Nagiah said there were concurrent functions for the national and provincial legislatures, but according to the Constitution, national legislation prevailed over any other legislation. The Bill also dealt with a Schedule 4 function, hence it was a Section 76.

The Chairperson said there was a confusion regarding the Bills. The PAPA Bill was a Section 75, but the Breeder’s Bill was a Section 76, even though the role of the provinces was more evident in the PAPA Bill.

Ms Nagiah replied that the PAPA Bill did not fall under the concurrent functions of Schedule 4.

Ms Steyn said she understood the provisions in the Constitution, but the provisions in the Bill required the involvement of provinces. She asked if it was possible change the Bill to a Section 76, if the Committee did not agree with the decision.

Ms Ngema said the first thing one should do when tagging a Bill was to look at the functions in the Schedules. In this case, agricultural matters fell under Schedule 4, which gives both the national and provincial government legislative powers to delegate on those functions. Hence the Bill was tagged Section 76.

Mr Filtane said there were ways in which the provinces could not be involved, and one was to issue the licences only through the national department.

Ms Steyn again asked what the implications would be if the Bill was tagged as a Section 75, and whether it would be possible to add that the provinces would have some kind of role to play for that purpose.

Ms Vuyokazi Ngcobozi, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, replied that one should at all times tag the Bill accordingly, and if not, the Bill became invalid.

Ms Ngema added that one should not look at the contents of a Bill but rather at the matter of the Bill, and which of those matters were listed under the Schedules.

The Chairperson said it was advisable that the Committee should rather follow the advice of the legal advisors. They did not have enough time to debate the issue because it had to be passed as an Act by June 2015.

Mr Ntombela said there were provisions which would allow them to delegate some functions to the provinces.

The Chairperson concluded that if the national department were to delegate some functions to the provinces, it would also need to provide provinces with the financial resources to carry the functions out.

Briefing by DAFF on poultry issues
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, Chief Director of Inspection and Quarantine, DAFF, said the Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990, regulated the sale and export of certain agricultural products through regulations, such as grading or classification according to standardised quality standards. The regulations for poultry meat prescribed that there were no clear restrictions on the treatment of poultry portions. The objectives of the poultry meat regulations were to have a greater transparency in the market place, to be able to purchase specific quality poultry meat over time and distance, to provide a platform or quality reference point from which trade within the Southern African Custom Union should be conducted, and to serve as a reference during negotiation of trade agreements between countries.

Many had been concerned with ‘brining,’ and what it meant. Brine (salt and water) was a solution that was currently being used in conjunction with other additives, such as phosphates, gums and sweeteners. Brine was simply a water-based solution of salt and other ingredients. In terms of regulation 4(9), the chemical solution may be injected into the breast meat of a whole carcass at a maximum level of eight percent. The main objective of brine was to improve the quality of the meat by tenderisation and flavour enhancement. The revision of the poultry meat regulations stemmed from requests made from the SA Poultry Association (SAPA), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Pick ‘n Pay, the Red Meat Organisation and the Portfolio Committee, for reasons such as:

  • Poor quality product as a result of excessive treatment;
  • Excessive moisture loss during thawing and cooking;
  • Product weight gain;
  • Financial gain;
  • Consumer protection;
  • Promotion of trade amongst our trading partners;
  • Consumer awareness and various media enquiries.

The regulatory review process which had been undertaken consisted of two drafts which had been made available for public comment. There had been consultative meetings and other informal engagements. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) had been notified of the final draft. It had been approved by the Director General, who had then addressed the comments which had been made by Members. The final step had included the Ministerial consideration and approval of the proposed amendments. The review process had started in 2010, when they had held meetings with stakeholders. The outcome of the meetings had led to a consensus on the proposed treatment level of a maximum of eight percent. DAFF had indicated that the present regulations prescribed maximum eight percent treatment levels for whole carcasses and that this should be enforced, and other issues which related to the brine treatment had also been discussed. The implications of the amendments were that treatment levels and the associated control would be affected, there would be labelling changes, the brining practice would change, there would be more meat per bag, since there would be less ‘water’ in the bag, and the Department intended to revise the complete set of regulations in the near future.

More comments had been received from the local community regarding the proposed levels of brine. AgriSA, the Red Meat Producers Organisation (RPO), Spif Chickens, the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters (AMIE), Rainbow Chickens and Mikon Farming were all in favour of the proposed level, but the Department of Health, SAPA and Astral Foods were against the level of eight percent and had opted for zero percent. However, Woolworths, Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay were concerned about the perceived cost increase for consumers, and whether consumers would be able to afford the products. Other major concerns were that poultry meat was price sensitive, meaning that if one producer injected slightly more than the other, their products would have an unfair market advantage, as they could sell it slightly more cheaply. Proper enforcement of regulations was currently lacking. The DAFF should thus try and consider the appointment of an assignee for poultry meat.

Mr Ramasodi concluded by saying the proposed draft amendment on brining levels represented a compromise between the industry and the consumer. The majority of the stakeholders accepted the draft amendment in its proposed state. The poultry regulations were not cast in stone and could be reviewed should the proposed amendments have an unintended negative impact. The Minister was the only person empowered to either approve or reject the proposed amendments.

Mr Ntshayisa said he was not convinced about the effectiveness of brining.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) asked what the consumers’ responses towards brining had been.

Mr Ramokhoase asked what made DAFF think that there would be a shortage of chickens, and what was the Department doing to empower the previously disadvantaged.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked what the plan was to get consumers to become healthy if the meat remained brined. She had noticed that the Department did not have consultations with citizens for them to decide on these proposals. Why had Brazil decided not to brine their meat? Would it have any effect on South Africa, since they were both part of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)? Why had the voted against the brining.

Ms Steyn also asked why the Department of Health was against brining, since the industry had confirmed that no health risks were involved.

Mr Filtane said that besides the financial implications, were there problems regarding its capacity to conduct inspection which the Department faced?

Mr Ramosadi replied that DAFF had opened up a process which would allow the public to make submissions concerning brining. The Department of Health was mostly worried about the amount of salt intake involved with brining, hence they were against the eight percent level. He requested that the Department of Health be given an opportunity to present to the Committee about why they did not agree with brining. A chicken from any production house would not have brining -- the brining happened after an animal had been slaughtered -- so the brining would not cause any industry competitiveness, and it could not be used for multiplying a product. Brazil was not the only country which did not allow brining, but the USA did not trade with South Africa due to the brining.

The Chairperson said the Committee would engage further with the Department. Its role as a department was to produce food, and the Health Department’s issue stemmed from what it was feeding South Africans. There had been cases where people had also started to brine fish as well.

Ms Elaine Alexander, Deputy Director General: Economic Development and Trade and Marketing, said the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 (AGOA) was originally an Act adopted by the USA to encourage industrial development, to authorise a new trade policy in Africa and to improve relations with the United States. Recently, the USA had decided that Swaziland no longer qualified to be part of AGOA because of its crimes against humanity and the lack of democracy in the country. The legislation was due to be reviewed again in 2015, and the revisions would make it easier to become eligible -- it would focus on improving the future business environment in developing African countries. Some alleged that AGOA was in contradiction with the World Trade Organisation’s rules. South Africa was under a lot of pressure, as it had not received the go-ahead from the United States, and AGOA would be a great opportunity for South Africa for economic growth. Although the goal was to be part of AGOA, however, the Department would not compromise South Africa.

Mr Ramasodi said the most notifiable strains of Avian Influenza (AI) -- the H5 and H7 -- could be found in ostriches as well. The origin of outbreaks had been pinpointed as virus introductions from wild birds, with virus multiplication in ostriches. There had been no outbreaks of H5 or H7 in poultry other than in ostriches, and all outbreaks in ostriches were usually mild, without any pronounced signs of the disease. The history of AI had started in June 2004 in the Eastern Cape, and the outbreaks had been eradicated by culling and the disposal of all ostriches and other poultry on detected farms. After that, there had been intensive surveillance in the Western Cape, and there had been no positive serology detected in the slaughtering of birds since October 2004. In 2006 there had been a detection in the Western Cape which had been unrelated to the outbreak in 2004. The outbreak had been managed properly and by June 2006 it had been eradicated. Between 2011 and 2013, the Western Cape had seen more detections of the H5N2, which had been resolved in June 2013. No further outbreaks of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) had been detected again since 2013.

Mr Ntshayisa asked if the lack of trading between the United States and South Africa was due to the Avian Influenza.

Mr Ramokhoase asked if the Bill was now waiting to become an Act.

Mr Filtane asked if the Department had carried out any inspections in the areas and among people who had been affected with the AI. If yes, what had they found from the inspections?

Mr Maxegwana said South Africa had done a good job in controlling the AI. Who was responsible for resourcing the management of the AI?

The Chairperson asked if South Africa would be sufficiently equipped to deal with AI if another outbreak happened.

Ms Alexander said there was an opportunity for South Africa to source investment from the United States for their industries. It also opened up opportunities for scholarships and bursaries for students to study in the United States.

Mr Ramosodi replied saying the AI outbreaks often happened during winter and the DAFF had systems in place which would help them deal with an outbreak, although they would admit that a lot of resources would be needed.

Consideration of minutes

Mr Maxegwana moved the adoption of the minutes of 24 March 2015.

Mr Filtane seconded the motion.

Mr Ramokhoase moved the adoption of the minutes of 26 March 2015.

Mr Filtane seconded the motion.

The minutes were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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