Animal Improvement Bill [B28-98] and Agricultural Amendment Bill [B24-98]: discussion

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE, WATER AFFAIRS & FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
4 August 1998
ANIMAL IMPROVEMENT BILL [B28-98] AND AGRICULTURAL AMENDMENT BILL [B24-98]: DISCUSSION

Deputy Chairperson (acting chair): Mr J.D.Arendse

SUMMARY
Two bills were discussed: (1) Animal Improvement Bill and (2) Agricultural Standards Amendment Bill. A presentation was also made by Mr Brock from the Agricultural Marketing Council regarding a proposed levy on winter cereals.

DETAILED MINUTES
(1) Animal Improvement Bill: Mr Rademeyer, a representative from the Department, began by clarifying several issues which had been raised during the meeting the previous day.

Concern had been expressed that the lack of control on imports could lead to the importation of harmful genetic material into the country. Mr Ramsay, another representative from the Department, stated that import and export products would be subject to veterinary regulations between the countries involved in the exchange, and in this way the importation of genetically undesirable breeds would be avoided.

Mr Rademeyer referred the committee to Clause 9:8 pg. 12 in the Bill where the date for the expiry of registration was explained.

Mr Ligege (ANC) had previously asked why no maximum fines were specified in the Act. Mr Rademeyer said that this was because of the need to be able to change this value with the fluctuating value of the rand.

The issue of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Act had been raised. Mr Rademeyer explained that this was aimed at restricting, prohibiting and protecting the importations and experimentations with genetically modified organisms.

At this point, several more questions were posed:

Mrs Ntuli (ANC) referred to section 9, saying that the Bill did not specify the number of years before the registration certificate would expire. Mr Rademeyer responded saying that the period of registration is, in fact, mentioned in the Bill.

Mr Masala (ANC) commented on the fact that the conditions of the Act would only apply to those animals specified in the Act itself. He felt that this could be discriminatory particularly towards small-scale farmers whose landrace breeds may not be included in this list. He asked how the advantages associated with this Act could be conferred to these people as well. Mr Rademeyer referred him to Clause 2:2 where it states that any individual may approach or request a minister to declare an animal in order to benefit from the Act. He said that almost all local animals, regardless of landrace or breed, would be covered by the Act. Mr Masala also made reference to clause 2 which states that a registrar must be suitably qualified for the job and must have at least a tertiary education. He commented on the fact that the Act states that the registrar may delegate powers and duties to an officer but that no provision is made for the fact that the officer himself/herself may not have the same qualifications.

Another question was also raised regarding the institutions which had been consulted in drawing up the Bill. Concern was expressed that insufficient numbers of consumer organizations had been involved in this consultation process. Mr Rademeyer responded saying that, although not listed, workshops and meetings had been held after the "first round" of consultation and that these had included a wider range of institutions. He said, however, that many consumer organizations had not been as involved as would have been expected since many of them believed that they were being represented by other NGO’s.

Discussions on this Bill were then closed.

Before the second bill was discussed, the committee was briefed by Mr Brock from the Agricultural Marketing Council on the proposed levy on winter cereals. The levy amount will be R4,50 per metric ton. R4 will be deposited in a research trust and the other R0,50 towards a general trust for winter grains. He stressed the importance of the levy in terms of maintaining South Africa’s ability to remain internationally competitive and to conduct research into new cultivation methods. He also commented on the fact that most of the objections which had been received were on the grounds that the levy went against state policy of "minimal state intervention". He said that this levy would be paid by the producer.

Some of the questions asked were as follows:
Mrs Ntuli (ANC) asked how the money would be allocated to different research councils. Mr Brock replied that the Research Trust (into which the money would be deposited) would be advised by a technical committee and that following this, the Trust would distribute funds at their own discretion. Mrs Ntuli also asked whether the needs of the small-scale farmers had actually been determined. Mr Brock responded saying that 90-95% of the research would be "scale neutral", meaning that the results of the research should be applicable to any farmer on any scale.

Mr Ligege (ANC) asked how the "ordinary man" would have access to the information gained from research work. Mr Brock responded saying that an organization known as the South African Grain Information Services would be involved in trying to distribute information to small-scale farmers who would otherwise not have access to this kind of information.

Another issue which was raised concerned the payment of levies on imported grains. Mr Brock explained that, in the case of imported goods, the importer would be regarded as the producer and would therefore be forced to pay the levy. However, it is almost impossible to control this kind of exchange and therefore the consumer is likely to end up paying the levies which would normally be paid by the producer when goods are imported. Locally though, control will be exercised so that the producer bears the financial burden.

He also discussed the consultation process prior to the acceptance of the proposal to increase the levies. It would seem that most of the affected people were prepared to accept the increase because of the long-term benefits associated with furthering research.

(2) Product Standards Amendment Bill: Advocate Naidoo, from the Department, began by addressing the committee on the recent insertion of a clause regarding intellectual property rights. International legislation does not allow the use of geographical names on products from other countries in the belief that this could mislead consumers about the nature of the product being bought (The example of "champagne" was used since no country, except France, can give their alcohol this name). South Africa does not currently have any legislation preventing the use of other geographical names and thus it was necessary to insert an appropriate clause.

Mr van Zyl (NP) asked whether KWV had been consulted about this new clause. Advocate Naidoo responded saying that they had been notified of the change. She did not foresee any problems regarding the acceptance of the amendment.
No further amendments were made.


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