Minister of Trade and Industry
Private Bag X274
10 January 2017
PROTECTION OF POULTY FARMS AND JOBS FROM POULTRY IMPORT DUMPING
Dear Minister Rob Davis, Dr
In 2016, poultry farm industry through various bodies i.e. South Africa Poultry Association and sector union, Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), warned against the risk of loosing jobs as cheap chicken imports from the European Union, Brazil and the United State continued to flood South African chicken market. An increase in dumping of chicken imports in South Africa is threatening already frail and declining poultry farm industry and jobs of hundreds of farm workers.
Given the massive over supply we have witnessed in the recent times, it has become impossible for local chicken producers to continue to operate let alone to compete internationally, ultimately threatening the industry’s sustainability.
If government does not intervene immediately with decisive measures, we will witness the demise of poultry industry. In October 2016, poultry imports increased by 2.6% on a monthly basis to a total of 50 324 tons, this is 1 253 tons more than the previous month. Compared to the same month in the previous year, imports increased by 33.2% or 12 535 tons at a value of 124.4 million.
Consequently, as a result of such drastic increases in poultry imports, it is reported that more than 1 500 poultry farm workers have lost their jobs in 2016. In addition, well over 3 000 poultry farm workers are in the process of being retrenched as companies are closing down. Even small abattoirs and poultry farms are forced to close down as many cannot afford escalating operating cost and they are not recovering these costs because there are cheap imports dumped in South African market monthly.
We call on government to treat the situation of the poultry farming as some kind of a state of emergency. Government, through the Minister’s immediate and decisive intervention, must limit the import of chickens from other countries particularly European Union and Brazil. We further call on the Minister to engage the Minister of Finance on behalf of the poultry industry to seek financial relief to prevent job losses. In the immediate, government including provincial departments, municipalities and state owned entities must only buy locally produced chickens. Otherwise, most companies as already indicated will be closing down their farms, retrenching workers. Given the unemployment rate of 27.1%, the highest in 13 years, it is crucial that we do everything to prevent further job losses.
We believe that there should be a comprehensive and cogent plan and trade policy to protect, not only the poultry industry, but the entire food production economy because it is an important part of South Africa’s economy. The ministry and department of trade and industry should develop and adopt a policy framework that should guarantee South Africa’s food sovereignty as a matter of urgency.
We write to the minister to request that you attend to the matter with the urgency and the sensitivity it requires.
As an immediate intervention, we request the Minister to impose a 50% tariff on all chicken imports and engage all Poultry farmers to stop closing their chicken production value chains. This tariff should be underpinned by soliciting a principled agreement that all poultry farmers will introduce employees share schemes, which will result in poultry workers owning at least 50% of all poultry production business.
We also re-emphasise the request we made to you previously that the department of Trade & Industry should give a directive to all retailers that all imported meat products should be visibly marked their country of origin, such as MADE IN AMERICA, MADE IN BRAZIL, MADE IN EUROPE. This will help conscious buyers to isolate dumped chicken from locally produced chicken products.
J S Malema
Issued by the EFF, 11 January 2016