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Parliament Briefed on Agricultural Produce Agents Bill

March 16, 2022

Parliament

The agriculture, land reform and rural development department recently briefed parliament on the Agricultural Produce Agents Amendment Bill.

The bill was tabled in parliament in November 2020.

The bill’s explanatory summary was published in Gazette 43723 in September 2020.

The bill aims to amend the Agricultural Produce Agents Act, 1992, so as to:

• refine certain definitions;
• provide for certain provisions of the Agricultural Produce Agents Act, 1992, to apply to all categories of agents;
• clarify the appointment and responsibilities of the registrar;
• provide for financial statements of the council to be audited by the Auditor General;
• provide for insurance of the fidelity fund;
• further clarify the conditions for acting as an agent;
• provide for trust accounts for export agents;
• provide for insurance by export and fresh produce agents; and
• provide for matters connected therewith

According to the bill’s memorandum, the objectives of the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) are to regulate the occupations of fresh produce, export and livestock agents and to maintain and enhance the status and dignity of the occupations and the integrity of persons practicing them.

The functions of the APAC include the formulation of policy and the setting up of rules and codes of conduct.

Briefing the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development on the bill last year, the department pointed out that current shortcomings of the act include that APAC can’t undertake inspections, investigations and disciplinary actions against export and livestock agents; fresh produce and export agents are not compelled to fidelity insurance to protect producers against losses; export agents not compelled to keep producer trust accounts and Fidelity Fund not insured with a risk of large claims.

The committee called for comment on the bill in 2021.

During the latest briefing, the department emphasized that the “protection of the farmer who uses the aggregated services of a third party (agent) to market his Agricultural Product (defined in the Act) is of utmost importance”.

In a statement following the briefing, the committee indicated that oral public hearings on the bill will be scheduled for next term.