TB requirements clarified

Only the 30-day requirement for TB testing of cattle exported to South Africa has been lifted, Namibia''s chief veterinary officer has clarified.

05 December 2016 | Agriculture

Namibia''s chief veterinary officer has clarified that South Africa did not suspend the import requirements for TB for cattle but has agreed that Namibia can import cattle originating from herds certified TB free, suspending the 30-day quarantine requirement.

Dr Adrianatus Maseke, chief veterinary officer at the agriculture ministry, on Friday said that following discussions with their South African counterparts, it was agreed the country could export cattle from herds that are certified TB free, a condition that forms part of the existing import requirements.

“We are still complying with the conditions, but we just have another alternative now.”

He said according to the previous agreements, Namibia was only allowed to export cattle according to one of the conditions forming part of the requirements, which was to compulsory individual testing within 30 days of export, during which the animals were isolated in quarantine for a month.

The full requirements of South Africa''s import conditions, which remain in force, dictate that that cattle should show no sign of bovine tuberculosis on the day of shipment, originate from a herd free from bovine tuberculosis or were subjected to a tuberculin test for TB with negative results during the 30 days prior to shipment.

“We are still following the current import conditions, so there are no changes in those conditions. We are just using another part of the existing conditions, which had to be clarified in the negotiations on how to declare a herd TB free.”

He said that in the past South Africa insisted that all animals had to be tested individually and kept in lengthy, and costly, quarantine.

Following the talks with their South African counterparts, he said that it has been clarified that “if we can certify a herd TB free, they will accept that. That is why they are saying under those conditions we can suspend individual testing.”

Maseke added that according to local experts and the ministry Namibia is considered TB free for animals born south of the veterinary fence. He said that the ministry has never had any reports of bovine TB from that side of the fence.

He said that the agreed changes were encouraging as one by one TB testing has been costly and time consuming, affecting the price of the cattle. With the elimination of the quarantine period, he hopes that more animals can be able to cross the border and that producers will receive better prices.

Confusion arose last week following a South African newspaper report which stated that South Africa did not suspend import requirements for cattle coming in for feedlotting and slaughter.

The South African report also quoted a South African spokesperson from their Agriculture Ministry, who reportedly stated that Namibia “claims to be TB-free and had submitted surveillance information to the SA Veterinary Authorities which could not scientifically prove freedom from TB.”

In contrast to that, a media statement from the Namibia''s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in late November stated that the South African government had suspended “all TB testing requirements for the export of cattle destined to South Africa.”

Moreover, a well-informed source in the agriculture industry in Namibia, last week warned that there is still misunderstanding between the interpretations of local and South African authorities regarding the import requirements and what was agreed on.

He added that while Namibian veterinarians insist the country''s livestock is TB free, even if an animal''s tests positive “we would never export it” and it would be declared.

He added that the requirement to test each animal individually did not make sense and that over the course of the year none of the animals tested positive.

He said only the future will tell whose interpretation of the agreement between the two governments is correct. “Permits will be issued, and then we will have to see.”

JANA-MARI SMITH

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