SA farmers working around labour laws - report

SA's agriculture is going well, but farmers are working to avoid labour laws. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

SA's agriculture is going well, but farmers are working to avoid labour laws. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

SA farmers are "mechanising" to avoid labour legislation, such as higher minimum wages for farmworkers, and land claims, say reports.

Agriculture in South Africa is doing well, but farmers are mechanising to circumvent labour laws, a farmer and an analyst have said, according to Sunday’s Rapport.

“To avoid labour legislation, we’re mechanising,” Carel Brüssow, a North West grain farmer, said at the 48th Nampo Harvest Day held near Bothaville, in the Free State, last week.

This was due to land claims, higher minimum wages for farm workers, and other labour legislation.

As an indication of the health of agriculture, four state-of-the-art tractors, each costing R4.5-million, were sold on the first two days of the agricultural show, held between May 13 and 16.

“It’s going really well with agriculture in South Africa,” political and economic analyst JP Landman was quoted as saying.

“Although there are currently only about 37 000 farmers left from the 66 000 in 1990, commercial farming produces a third more food than in 1990,” he said during a panel discussion. “This is despite challenges like the collapse of local government, land reform and strict labour laws.”

He said the decline in the number of commercial farmers was not unique to South Africa, but also happening in America.

Head of the Agricultural Business Chamber, John Purchase, said the government was opposed to the merging of large agricultural companies, and rather wanted more, smaller ones. – Sapa

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