Australia to phase out live sheep exports by sea

Posted: 15 May 2024 | | No comments yet

From 1 May 2028, live exports of sheep by sea will be banned in Australia, confirms the Australian Government.


In a landmark decision, the Australian Government has confirmed that exports of live sheep by sea will be banned in Australia from 1 May 2028.

To facilitate this, the Government has said that legislation “will be introduced in this term of the Australian Parliament to end the trade in law”.

In December 2024 alone, Australia exported 84,430 live sheep by sea. This was a 177 percent increase compared to November exports where the figure sat at 58,732, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.

The Australian Government has stated that trade will still be able to continue until the end date “without any additional restrictions such as caps or quotas”. In addition it stated that the prohibition “will not apply to other livestock export industries, such as live cattle exports, nor will it apply to live sheep exports by air”.

The decision was announced by Murray Watt, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, on 11 May 2024. The update was coupled with a Government response to the report of the Independent Panel as well as a transition support package.

Following an “extensive consultation with stakeholders” the decision was made, taking into account the recommendations of the Independent Panel provided to the Minister on 25 October 2023.

One year on from the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

As a way to support sheep farmers in Australia, the Government has put aside $107 million over five years to aid sheep producers and the supply chain in planning for and adjusting to the phase out.

Encouragement for early action comes through current funding provision, with the Australian Government sharing its aim is to ensure affected parties are prepared, resilient, and ready by 2028.

“We understand the phase out may be distressing for some people. There are many existing online, phone and face-to-face resources available. Producers and businesses can access Australian Government help in hard times and to prepare for change,” stated the Australian Government via its website.

“Call the Rural Financial Counselling Service on 1300 771 741 or find your nearest service provider online to learn more. You can also get assistance to make or update your farm business plan through the Future Drought Fund’s Farm Business Resilience Program. We are jointly running the programme across Australia with each state and territory,” it continued.

To read the full government response, click here.

New Food will keep its readers updated with response from the industry in the coming weeks.