New regulations will prevent many white-owned farms from obtaining the necessary permits to export products to Europe and the United Kingdom.
On 2 November 2023, The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development published new regulations regarding export permits.
The regulations state that permits will be allocated based on the Preferential Market Access Permit Allocation System.
The first consideration for getting a permit is applicants’ Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) status.
Permits issued for exporting agricultural products are subject to the Agricultural Black Economic Empowerment (AgriBEE) Sector Code.
AgriBEE determines the status of an enterprise using five elements – ownership, management control, skills development, enterprise and supplier development, and socio-economic development.
City Press reported that under the rules, farmers must meet specific black economic empowerment targets to continue obtaining export permits.
The guidelines will apply to agricultural businesses with a minimum annual turnover of R10 million or more.
Milk, cream, butter, fruit, nuts, sugar, jam, fruit purée, fruit juices, yeast, table grapes and wine are among the products affected, according to the notice.
Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai), a farmers’ lobbying group, told City Press that the rules would undermine investor security, job creation and growth in the nation’s agricultural sector.
“The measures fall far outside the framework of internationally acceptable protocols, and the lobby will fight against it in every local and international forum, in courts and multilateral agencies of the UN and the African Union,” Saai head Theo de Jager said.
Noko Masipa, the DA’s shadow minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, said they had lodged a complaint with the trade offices of the EU and the UK.
“The ANC government is imposing trade barriers on the very export businesses we desperately need to create more jobs,” Masipa said.
“The government is wilfully and deliberately destroying jobs and livelihoods and depriving business owners and workers of economic export opportunities.”
He said the economic consequences of the race quotas on the agricultural sector will be devastating.
In 2022, the country recorded US$12.8 billion in agricultural exports – of which 20% went to the EU and 4% went to the UK.
“Instead of empowering this sector, the ANC is deliberately imposing as many obstacles as possible in the way of job creation,” Masipa said.
“The ANC is directly endangering the jobs and livelihoods of the 800,000 people employed in the agriculture sector, which accounts for over 2.4% of our country’s annual economic output.”
“These race quotas for agricultural exports are part of a deliberate ANC agenda to destroy jobs on the altar of race.”
He said the DA will continue to lead the fight against job-killing quotas, which are being implemented across many sectors.
“We have already gone to court to declare the race quotas imposed by the Employment Equity Act unconstitutional. We will similarly lead the fight against these destructive new export quotas.”
Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said the newly published regulations merely mean the status quo remains.
“The message carried by some newspapers today regarding South Africa’s agricultural exports to the EU needs to be corrected,” he said.
“There are no changes in regulations. Farmers will continue to access the EU market, which is vital to our fruit and wines.”
De Jager said he was missing the point. “We have a moral problem that some agricultural entrepreneurs are limited to a ceiling on their turnover based on the colour of their skin,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter since when it has been applied, it remains a fundamental injustice,” De Jager said.