4 things discussed during the US land expropriation talks in South Africa

A number of top US officials recently visited South Africa at the request of President Donald Trump as part of an investigation into the country’s land expropriation process.

The delegation, which included US Deputy Foreign Secretary John J. Sullivan, met with AgriSA, Grain SA, and ANC officials on Friday (15 March) to discuss how the land expropriation process may impact property rights in the country.

In a statement released on Monday, AgriSA outlined what was discussed in the meeting and the issues that were raised.

“Agri SA discussed its research and commentary on the expropriation legislation openly and honestly,” said Omri van Zyl, executive director of Agri SA.

“These opportunities serve as a very powerful way of influencing policy, although this is not always recognised. We are grateful to the US government and diplomatic community for taking agriculture and our message seriously. We are a transparent organisation – the ANC formed part of the discussions and our message remains consistent.”

According to van Zyl, the following points were discussed in broad terms:

Expropriation without compensation

  • The purpose and outcome of expropriation without compensation (EWC). The USA specifically tested whether the role players were aware of the possible implications;
  • The investment uncertainty created, which hampers agricultural expansion;
  • The possible impact on food security; the effect on food prices should things go wrong, but also the fact that the end result would be a geopolitical catastrophe for Southern Africa;
  • The discussions that Agri SA conducted in this regard with the government and ANC;
  • The confirmation emerging from the wide parliamentary consultation process that there was a far greater need for urban housing than for agricultural land.

Land reform

  • Agri SA confirmed that land reform was necessary but said that it should take place in an orderly manner;
  • EWC addresses only a small part of land reform. Problems relating to sustainable land reform are more serious and should receive far greater attention;
  • The importance of title deeds and certainty of usage was strongly emphasised;
  • Agri SA also referred to the good work that had already been done. A great deal of transformation has already taken place, but we need more funding. The USA was urged to support our Agriculture Development Fund.

Farm safety

  • Crime and the need for accurate and timely information on farm safety were discussed;
  • Agri SA informed the delegation about the effect that farm murders and crime have on producers and farm workers, both white and black, as well as the uncertainty that farmers at grassroots level experience around their future in South Africa;
  • Agri SA informed them about the large number of farm murders and the fact that the number was higher per capita than for many other groupings.

American assistance

  • Agri SA called on US companies to invest in South Africa, not only by supplying technology and other services, but also by establishing themselves here and investing in such a way that it will help our economy to grow and create job opportunities;
  • Mention was made of the role that international US companies have played for decades and continue to play in South Africa.

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