The land you want to take...

In South Africa land is a major issue we all know and loath this. Apparently land is the promise of milk and honey, all things nice and all nice things twice. I see this as perhaps one of the best portrayed lies in the post-apartheid South Africa. I am a white male who originates from a farm and I am therefore a raging racist.

Now that we have the formalities out the way I can get back to the issue of taking my land. I grew up on a farm and I have various family members who are farmers and it is from a close interaction with them that I base this opinion.

The land on which my father is farming has been bought and paid for by the Land bank of South Africa. My father still owes them a major sum of money but I hoping he will be able to make the payments before they come and take it back. I probably sound a doom and gloom so just to give a quick economic summary of what it means to farm in the Northern Cape with sheep and cattle.

The wonderful interest rate of in South Africa is currently at 9.25%. The return on capital investment for farming is at 7% if you are the best farmer in the world and you get all the rain you need so there is enough food for your animals. You also have to hope and pray that jackal, lynx and the local community members stay away from your animals.  Should all these factors work in your favour you will be able to stay afloat while reducing the capital you invested in the farm at a steady 4% per year (You usually borrow money at prime +2 from the land bank).

Keep in mind that the diesel price, minimum wage, import export taxes and levies are also lurking in the bushes, that’s if you got enough rain and there are some bushes around. At this point you are probably thinking at least the value of the land has increased like that of a house. Yes the value of the land has increased but then you need to start using words like capital gains tax where 30% of what you make goes to the rest of the population. Utterances of giving 50% of your land to your farm hand has also done wonders for land prices in South Africa.

So let me get to my point.

Farming is hard work, believe me I have spent many thousands of hours sweating and suffering to get things working like they should. I have broken bones, needed stitches, had a piece of metal removed from my eye and endured a hell of a lot of pain in the time that I have been working on the farm. My parents aren’t massively rich driving around in big Mercs and going overseas. In fact some months the word survival comes to mind for them. I can go into a lot more detail but I trust that at this point I am boring already.

The land you want to take has some value to it if you sell it the day that you get it for free. This I cannot deny but I there is no such thing a quick easy road to riches. In farming there is no proverbial riches, although, the last 20 minutes I have sitting here on the stoep drinking a beer has been priceless.