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The Farming of Animals in South Africa
Livestock farming is the largest agricultural sector in the country with a population of 13.9 million cattle, 24 million sheep and 1.5 million pigs. According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), in 2013 revenue from animal products increased by 7.4% from 2012 and amounted to R87.437bn. The sector is divided into three sub-sectors: the commercial sector, which currently produces 90% of agricultural output; the emerging commercial sector which comprises predominantly black farmers, including those who benefited from land reform; and the communal sector which produces 10% of total agricultural output through subsistence farming.
A Sector Beset by Problems
Of concern to those involved in the industry are outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth (FMD) disease and the occurrence of bird flu in the ostrich population. In February 2014, after a three-year ban on the export of red meat that cost the industry R4bn per annum, South Africa was recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a country with a zone free of FMD without vaccination. However, exports are under threat again after an OIE mission team conducted a verification assessment on FMD controls in December 2014 and identified areas that need further attention. In the emerging commercial sector many farmers have had serious challenges in accessing funding as well as gaining the technical expertise needed to operate as fully-fledged commercial farmers. At the same time, the number of commercial farms has decreased from 58,000 in 1997 to between 35,000 and 38,500 currently.
The Farming of Animals report describes current conditions, factors that influence the success of the sector and prospects for an industry that is expected to grow as global population growth and the expansion of developing economies boost the demand for meat. Statistics for all domestic farm animals are provided, including for the ostrich industry where 588 registered farms and ten EU-approved and registered export abattoirs export meat and products to the value of approximately R1.2bn annually.