14 May, 2015
New Policy Proposal on Land Ceilings
Please refer to the below article that appeared in the Business Day (11th May 2015).
would appear that the Government has again changed the goal posts, in
that the original 12 000 ha land ownership ceiling has now been reduced
to 5 000 ha and that they will expropriate any excess land owned over
this ceiling. Of importance to note is that the forestry land holding
ceiling is still 12 000 ha.
position, all along, has been that the capping of land ownership is not
only a futile exercise but, if implemented, will eventually destroy
commercial agriculture and forestry enterprises.
We will thus engage with the Minister on his proposals.
Forestry South Africa
Nkwinti defends cap for farmsby Troye Lund, May 11 2015
RURAL Development and
Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has rejected critics who have decried his
proposed ownership ceilings for farms as "nonsensical and arbitrary",
saying these were a critical part of speeding up reform and avoiding land
This also forms part of
the minister's broader plan to prohibit foreign land ownership in SA.
Although academics have
warned that the proposed ceilings would drive investment away from agriculture,
Mr Nkwinti said the government was open to debate on the size needed for a
viable farm. However, the government would not back down on the principle of
capped farm sizes.
During his budget vote
speech on Friday Mr Nkwinti presented a plan to classify farm ownership into
The proposed ceiling for
a viable commercial small-scale farm is 1,000ha while caps for medium-scale and
large-scale farms are 2,500ha and 5,000ha. The proposal does allow for a
special 12,000ha land ceiling for forestry, game and renewable energy farms.
Concessions on sizes will be available for some farming enterprises - sugar,
grapes, vegetables, fruit and horticulture - that generate more than R5m a
These will be considered
for workers' share equity schemes.
"Any excess land
portions between each of these categories shall be expropriated and
redistributed; and compensation will be on the basis of the ‘just and
equitable' principle enshrined in section 25(3) of our Constitution," Mr
Nkwinti told Parliament.
Ben Cousins of the
Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the
Western Cape has criticised the plan and said any measure used to decide what
size made a farm viable could not be anything other than "arbitrary"
and based on "dubious assumptions" about what constituted acceptable
income from farming. "Even if one accepts some kind of target income,
there are too many variables to compute and these variables, including the
price of inputs and outputs, shift (too) continuously for viability to be
determined," he said.
Also, the notion of
excess land among the prescribed categories made no sense unless a minimum farm
size for each segment was proposed, said Prof Cousins. "If, for example, a
farm is 1,500ha - which is in excess of the 1,000ha cap for a small-scale
commercial farm - would it not then be a medium-scale farm? Setting upper and
lower limits on the basis of hectares alone is simply foolish."
Agri Sector Unity Forum
chairman Japie Grobler said: "There's no way you can have ceilings in
agriculture. There are so many factors that affect farms - like what you are
farming, what water rights you have, how far you are from markets, whether you
farm for export or for something that is subsidised."