Louis Meintjes |
26 February 2019
Louis Meintjes responds to Theo de Jager’s move to establish new agricultural organisation
NEW ORGANISATION IN AGRICULTURE
TLU SA have been inundated with enquiries after a report about Dr Theo de Jager’s new agricultural organisation, SAAI, appeared in the Rapport newspaper.Unity in agriculture has been a subject of great debate the past few years. Farmers wanted to know where the unity lies when there is more than one organisation. TLU SA had probing conversations with Dr de Jager concerning this subject.
He decided to establish a new organisation. It is his right and TLU SA respects his decision. However, the question concerning unity must still be answered by him.
TLU SA can confirm that we will work side by side with SAAI to conceive a better dispensation for farmers. In saying this, we would like to confirm our stance and policy.
TLU SA have always sold the farmers point of view to the government. We do not sell the government’s stance to our farmers. This was confirmed time and again during TLU SA’s annual congresses. TLU SA do not speak for the farmers, they speak for themselves. TLU SA’s power lies at grass-root level – where it really matters for the farmer in his day to day survival.
Agriculture in South Africa is very complicated since we are seen as a marginal agricultural environment in comparison to other countries. The uncertain policy situation projected by the ANC worsens the situation. As TLU SA we are currently focussing on three aspects to create stability.
Firstly, the safety of farmers, their families and the workers on the farms. The reality is that the government have lost control over the safety of South Africans. Our safety committee has, over time, been established where realistic and achievable plans are implemented to look after our own safety. Various other institutions have built on this TLU SA model.
Furthermore, the uncertainty over property rights, clearly created with a political agenda, holds nothing positive for investors. Agriculture cannot go forward under these circumstances. TLU SA is constantly making every effort to not support the ANC’s slipway into socialism, but to focus on the principles needed to help agriculture survive.
In the third place, farmers have been struggling under extreme financial pressure brought on by not least of all, the drought.
TLU SA held a sustainability conference on 6 December 2018 after which a committee started working on ways to distribute the risk from the producer only to other players in the supply chain.
As TLU SA we are concerned about a notion spread by some roleplayers that just 20% of farmers are producing 80% of the country’s food and the remaining 80% are only producing 20%. This creates the impression that we can do with only 20% of farmers. The question arises if this 20 % of farmers will also be responsible for supplying 100% of the current labour market in agriculture. We have picked up that this opinion is supported by some agricultural leaders.
But if you drive through the countryside it is plain to see how farm after farm is producing. It is not only some big farms making a contribution.
TLU SA have always stood by the viewpoint that family farms are the foundation of agriculture. It is their contribution to the rural areas which creates jobs and sustains smaller towns.
We have been saying that the time is right to stand together for the past few years. It can only be done with the support of people and institutions serving the same ideals and principles we serve. These are the same principles followed by TLU SA since its inception and which are still in the best interest of the farmer. It is set out in the Manifest and the Constitution. The most important is still the belief in our Almighty God, as shown in His Word, the Bible.
The other important principles TLU SA stands for is the protection of property rights and the fact that market demand determines prices.
Since January 2019 we had 450 new members join TLU SA. By keeping true to the principles in the best interest of everyone, agriculture will be kept sustainable. It is these beliefs creating a renewed interest in TLU SA.
We are committed to offering a structure for the commercial farmer and in doing so building a bridge to the consumer.
TLU SA’s Young Farmer Conference – which took place 22 February at Weesgerus – left our young farmers with a realistic and positive message. Without ignoring the reality, we created hope.
The agricultural sector certainly has its challenges and through all our years of existence we have never backed down from it. In fact, since 1897 we have continuously looked for solutions in the interest of the commercial farmer’s sustainable and safe future.
Statement issued by Mr Louis Meintjes, President TAU SA, 26 February 2019