The Australian government has announced its commitment to phase out live sheep exports by sea, allocating AUD$5.6 million over two years towards this goal. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has been allocated a total of AUD$1.5 billion, with AUD$1.03 billion dedicated to its biosecurity system. An independent panel will be established to assess how and when to phase out live sheep exports, in line with an election commitment by the Australian government. The panel will consider the interests of all stakeholders, including the agricultural industry and animal welfare, before making recommendations.
The government has also allocated AUD$5 million towards developing a renewed animal welfare strategy, and AUD$302.1 million towards investing in climate-smart and sustainable practices. The government acknowledges that its commitment to phasing out live sheep exports by sea will impact farmers, exporters, and other supply chain participants. However, it believes that the panel’s recommendations and the consultation process will ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account, including opportunities to protect and grow the sheep meat industry in the future. Murray Watt, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has described the funding package as “historic” and believes that it will help protect and grow the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sector for years to come.
Meanwhile, the Australian cattle herd is expected to grow to its largest size since 2014, according to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). Despite the natural disasters that have affected many parts of the country, MLA predicts that the cattle herd will grow to 28.8 million head in 2023. The strong supply of cattle is expected to continue for at least two more years, despite seasonal conditions. MLA forecasts that the national herd will reach 29.6 million by 2025, making it the highest level since the 1970s.
The Australian government’s decision to phase out live sheep exports by sea has been welcomed by animal welfare groups, who have long campaigned against the practice. Live sheep exports have been a contentious issue in Australia for many years, with concerns about animal welfare and the conditions in which the sheep are transported. The government’s commitment to phasing out live sheep exports is seen as a positive step towards improving animal welfare standards in Australia.
However, the decision has been met with some opposition from the agricultural industry, who argue that live sheep exports are an important part of the industry and provide a vital source of income for many farmers. The industry has called for a transition period to allow farmers to adjust to the changes and for alternative markets to be developed.
The Australian government has acknowledged the concerns of the agricultural industry and has committed to taking them into account during the consultation process. The government has also emphasized its commitment to protecting and growing the sheep meat industry in the future, and believes that alternative markets and supply chains can be developed to support the industry.
Overall, the Australian government’s decision to phase out live sheep exports by sea is a significant step towards improving animal welfare standards and protecting the agriculture, fisheries, and forestry sector for years to come. The independent panel’s recommendations and the consultation process will be crucial in ensuring that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account, and that the sheep meat industry can continue to thrive in a sustainable and ethical manner.