Australia to ban live sheep exports by sea from 2028

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Australia will ban the live export of sheep by sea from May 2028, and help those impacted by the decision to adjust, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said.

“Certainty for when the trade will end is critical,” Watt said Saturday in the government’s formal response to an independent report it commissioned on phasing out the controversial practice.

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“The timeframe balances the transition steps required with our commitment to uphold improved sheep welfare outcomes.”

The government said it will provide a A$107 million ($70.7 million) transition package to help impacted business.

Trade can continue until the end date without any additional restrictions such as caps or quotas. The prohibition will not apply to other livestock export industries or live sheep exports by air.

The industry has already begun moving away from the trade.

Australia exported approximately 652,000 sheep by sea in 2022-23, compared to 5.92 million sheep 20 years ago, government data showed.

Still, the National Farmers’ Federation said the four-year time frame would be devastating for farmers and accused the government of pandering to activists.

“We will not rest until this misguided policy is overturned,” NFF Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said. “Today’s announcement just sentences foreign sheep to the practices we banned a decade ago.”

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