Agri SA is an organisation with a value proposition whereby many organisations with an interest in the agricultural value chain are accommodated. Agri SA’s vision is ‘to ensure an inclusive and prosperous agricultural sector and, through living and respecting its values and with the cooperation of its members, to fulfil its mission, namely ‘We enable farmers’.
In 1896 during the Natal Farmers’ Conference (now known as Kwanalu), farmers expressed the need for a federal structure to meet their requirements and protect their interests. At a subsequent meeting in Bloemfontein in December 1903, agricultural producers advocated for greater unity within the farming community.
The South African Agricultural Union (or Inter-colonial Agricultural Union of South Africa, as it was known at the time) was founded at a conference held from 25 to 29 June 1904 in Pretoria. The following resolution was adopted by representatives of the respective colonies: ‘That, in the interest of South African agriculture, the time has come to create a central Southern African Agricultural Union which will be representative of all agricultural unions in British South Africa, and that a branch is established in each of the colonies, namely the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, Orange River Colony and Rhodesia’. The main purpose of establishing the South African Agricultural Union was to unite all agricultural producers at an organisational level and to protect and promote the interests of the farming community in all spheres within the framework of the broad national interest. The SAAU grew over the years and was recognised by all subsequent governments as the mouthpiece of the farming community at a national level.
The SAAU was essentially a federation of agricultural organisations with member organisations representing different provincial agricultural unions, co-operatives and commodity organisations. Members were represented in a Provincial Chamber, Commodity Chamber and Agribusiness Chamber, respectively. Issues of the day, such as land, water (natural resources), safety, as well as labour, economics and trade, were dealt with in a committee context.
With the new political dispensation in 1994 and an increase in the number of provinces, the Transvaal Agricultural Union decided to function independently of the SAAU and is known today as TAU SA. In 1999, the SAAU became known as Agri SA. In 2002, the Agribusiness Chamber decided to function independently of Agri SA to promote its members’ interests and formed Agbiz, which represents co-operatives and agribusinesses.