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Australia’s Live Cattle Exports Ban Lifted by Malaysia

Malaysia has immediately lifted a ban on live cattle and buffalo exports from Australia, following technical information to the Malaysian authority demonstrating Australia’s freedom from lumpy skin disease (LSD).

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) welcomed Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Service’s (DVS) decision to lift the suspension after it confirmed LSD was never detected in Australia.

Agricultural Trade Group, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Acting Deputy Secretary Nicola Hinder said Malaysia’s decision to lift the suspension results from a well-coordinated whole-of-government effort.

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“It (the restriction lift) was led by the department’s technical and trade officials who helped gather the extensive evidence base that led to this determination,” Ms. Hinder said.

In August, the Malaysian government followed the ban imposed by Indonesia–the biggest importer of Australian cattle.

Australia Awaits Indonesian Suspension Lift

Following Malaysia’s lift, Australian government officials will discuss dropping the restrictions imposed on export yards in northern Australia with the Indonesian government.

It comes after Australia has proven robust systems for monitoring Australia’s animal disease status, including LSD, the highly infectious viral disease of cattle and buffalo transmitted by biting insects. The disease does not pose a risk to humans.

“There is no cause for concern for Australian cattle producers,” Ms. Hinder said.

Malaysia’s cause for concern comes after an investigation was conducted into the health status of Australia’s northern cattle herds to provide the assurances that Indonesia and Malaysia needed in response to LSD detection in a small number of Australian-origin cattle who had arrived and spent time in Indonesia.

Indonesia and Malaysia are now considering rapid diagnostic testing across their country’s cattle herds.

Australian Governments Band Together

The investigation involved DAFF’s rapid diagnostic testing of more than 1,000 head of cattle across northern Australia, which was supported by the Western Australian (WA), Queensland (QLD) and Northern Territory (NT) governments.

Meanwhile, Australia Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Beth Cookson said the testing exercise illustrated the possible cooperation between Australian governments and industry.

“I would like to thank the WA, Qld and NT governments and industry participants who participated in this testing exercise,” Dr. Cookson said

While DAFF would continue engaging with stakeholders to assure trading partners of Australia’s animal health status after LSD changed Australia’s risk profile, the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Developments (WADPIRD) said LSD could be catastrophic.

Western Australia Poses LSD as an Emergency 

LSD was reported in Indonesia on March 2, 2022, but from July 31, 2023, there were confirmed cases in 14 provinces. As a result, DAFF worked with government and industry groups to strengthen disease preparedness activities with nationally agreed response and cost-sharing arrangements. Still, WADPIRD said LSD could result in significant production losses and impact the international trade of live animals and animal products.

“The most likely way LSD could enter Australia is by insects being carried across from Indonesia via strong winds during monsoonal weather or infected insect vectors entering on returning vessels,” WADPIRD said. “The returning vessel pathway is mitigated by disinfestation of returning ships.”

WADPIRD said all livestock owners should have a high level of biosecurity on their property, including accurate livestock movement records.

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