Australian live sheep exporting to end in 2028

Sheep being loaded on a ship for live export. | Newsreel
Australian live sheep exporting will end in 2028 | Photo: John Carnemolla (iStock)

Australia’s live sheep export industry will end in less than four years.

The Federal Government has announced that the export of live sheep by sea from Australia will end on May 1, 2028.

Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said legislation enacting the phase out to would be introduced in this term of Parliament, with a $107 million transition support package put in place for the Australian sheep industry to support the phase out.

“While the live sheep export industry has been in decline for many years, down from $415m in 2002-03 to $77m in 2022-23, the demand for processed sheepmeat both here and overseas has been rapidly expanding,” Minister Watt said.

“This presents an opportunity for more processing to occur onshore in Western Australia.”

He said by legislating the date, the Government was giving sheep producers and the supply chain certainty.

“Transition support is focused on helping affected individuals, businesses and communities to plan for, respond and adjust to the phase out.

“It will be available to help all parts of the sheep industry supply chain, from farmers, to truckies, to shearers and processors,” Minister Watt said.

The $107 million in transition support includes:

  • $64.6 million to assist sheep producers and the supply chain, particularly in Western Australia, to capitalise on existing and emerging opportunities. Funding will assist businesses to plan and implement transition actions and to expand domestic sheep processing capacity. It will also support community wellbeing activities and rural financial counsellors.
  • $27 million to enhance demand within Australia and internationally for sheep products to maintain and develop market opportunities. With a range of delivery partners, including Austrade, this will fund activities such as market analyses, consumer studies, product promotions and building business relationships. Agricultural counsellors and Austrade will also work to support diverse trade to and relationships in the Middle East and North Africa region.
  • $2.6 million to continue to improve sheep welfare standards so that they are practical and meet community expectations and for Australia to enhance its engagement in the World Organisation for Animal Health.
  • $1.7 million to appoint a Transition Advocate to facilitate two-way communication between industry and government, provide information to industry about the transition plan and support, and provide advice to government on how the transition is progressing.
  • $11.1 million for the implementation of the phase out, including a stocktake of transition progress in 2026-27 and to facilitate ongoing engagement with industry, communities, trading partners and other stakeholders.