Thanks Bruce, but it’s not for Aus, say SA farmers
... but a South African farmer, who has already emigrated there, says he has no regrets
A South African farmer who moved to Australia six years ago says he would recommend it to anyone, but Agri SA and Afriforum say local farmers love South Africa and would not easily take up an offer from Australia for visas.
The Brisbane-based nut farmer, who did not want to be named, left South Africa six years ago. He told Times Select he supported the controversial comments made last week by Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to fast-track visas for white South African farmers looking to emigrate.
But Agri SA president Dan Kriek said there was no groundswell of farmers looking to leave South Africa.
Kriek said he did not believe local farmers took Dutton’s comments seriously, and said South African farmers were patriotic and wanted to stay and work to solve the challenges they faced.But the government’s plans to review its policy on land expropriation without compensation was creating uncertainty for South African farmers.
“We have extreme levels of uncertainty and we need to lower that,” Kriek said.
“It’s not good for the sector or for investment.
“We have a progressive stance about land reform and believe that it can be done within the current confounds of the constitution.”
The CEO of lobby group AfriForum, Kallie Kriel, said while they were not in support of white South African farmers emigrating, Dutton’s comments did put the issues South African farmers face onto the agenda.
“We are pleased the issue of farm murders and expropriation is getting attention because they are serious problems,” Kriel said.
“But we are not in support of people leaving South Africa. Afrikaners can only survive as a community in Southern Africa. We are here to stay and we see our future here.”
The expat farmer, however, said he would recommend emigrating to any young South African.
Apart from having to do most of the actual farming themselves and the high costs of starting out, there were few drawbacks, he said.
“I’ve met lots of former South Africans here and in my area there are at least 10 farmers from SA. We won’t go back [to South Africa]. We have peace of mind here. There are no drawbacks,” he said.Dutton, whose comments have been described as racist both in Australia and South Africa, said white farmers here deserved “special attention” owing to the “horrific circumstances” they faced.
He is not new to controversy, having previously been criticised for his policy decisions and statements regarding immigrants and people of colour in Australia.
The farmer who spoke to Times Select said he left South Africa after his neighbour was murdered and he felt that there would not be opportunities in his native country for his three sons.
Outside of the high cost of labour, he found little wrong with his new home and credited the Australian government for the support it gives to farmers.“It’s just expensive to start out,” said the farmer, who spent nearly R500,000 to relocate his family.
“But interest is low, the economy is stable and the government is protective and very supportive. We don’t worry about our safety.
“I would say [that] any South African farmer should jump at the opportunity to come here.”
Theo van Niekerk, who has worked as an agricultural consultant in Australia for the past 18 years, told Afrikaans newspaper Volksblad over the weekend not many South Africans have bought farms in Australia.
He knows of six farmers who own their own farms. In most cases, South African farmers in Australia are employed by Australian farmers to farm on their behalf. These South African farmers are paid on average Aus$55,000 (about R506,000) a year.
Agri SA’s Kriek told Times Select: “I am not in the least interested in going to Australia.
“I am a South African farmer and we have the best farmers in the world. They are a national asset.”