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Live sheep export ban planned for 2028

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The Government has announced a plan to ban the export of live sheep from Australia.
The Government has announced a plan to ban the export of live sheep from Australia.

The Government has announced a plan to ban the export of live sheep from Australia.

A bill is expected to be introduced by next year, which if passed would come into effect from May 2028.

It comes after an independent panel urged the Government to introduce a ban.

The Federal Opposition said it would reverse the decision if it wins the next election. The Western Australian Government has also opposed the plan.

About live exports

Live exports refer to the commercial transport of livestock overseas, including sheep and cattle.

Exports generate over $800 million in Australia per year.

Livestock exports are used by countries whose domestic agricultural industries are unable to meet demand for meat.

Australia has legislated measures to support the welfare of animals involved in the live export trade.

Live sheep exports from Australia

Live sheep exports by sea accounted for $77 million in the 2022/23 financial year.

This is down from a peak in 1983, when 7.3 million sheep were exported from Australia. This followed increased meat demand from Middle East countries.

However, demand for live sheep exports has decreased as other countries expand their “boxed meat” imports from Australia instead.

Animal welfare concerns

Live export practices have also faced increased scrutiny over animal welfare concerns.

Over 2,400 sheep died from heat stress and other conditions on their way from WA to the Middle East in 2017.

Reforms to limit the risk of heat stress were implemented in 2019.

Earlier this year, an export ship with thousands of livestock on board spent several weeks stranded off the coast of WA in heatwave conditions.

Proposed ban

In March 2023, the Federal Government appointed an independent panel to examine a proposed ban on live sheep exports.

The panel handed down its final report in October. It recommended a transition away from live sheep exports towards a total ban by 2028.

The Government announced it would accept the recommended ban over the weekend. It promised $107 million for the transition. Most of this will go towards helping farmers to expand domestic practices to prepare for the live export ban.

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