Like a steam kettle, the pressure in the South African chicken industry has been building up over at least five years and has now reached a critical level. Without the crippling drought that sent feed costs through the roof, the current crisis might have been postponed by a year or two, but it was going to come sooner or later. The crisis was simply inevitable given the speed at which Europe has been ramping up its exports of the offcut chicken it can’t sell in its developed-world market. The job losses caused by the shrinkage of one of the biggest sectors contributing to the agricultural economy have raised a red flag that cannot be ignored any longer. This was clear at the recent trade and industry portfolio committee hearing in Parliament. Government is facing some tough decisions, and although there is a great divide in opinion between those inside and outside the poultry industry, the need for urgent intervention is one that everyone agrees on. The pressure is on government to ...

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