WA farmers can again send live cattle exports to Malaysia with a suspension order over fears of lumpy skin disease being lifted immediately.
It comes as Australia pushes Indonesian authorities for the same outcome.
The agricultural industry has been hit with blow after blow in the past three months with Indonesia and Malaysia stopping livestock imports from four Australian export yards, including Wyndham.
The latest headache has been Indonesia effectively banning live cattle exports from Broome and Darwin after eight animals were found to be carrying the disease.
The Malaysian Government on Tuesday lifted the temporary suspension of live cattle exports from Australia effective immediately after Australia proved it was lumpy skin disease-free.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt welcomed the announcement, calling it “an important first step in the full restoration of this trade”.
“We have always maintained that Australia is free of lumpy skin disease, demonstrated by the results of extensive testing undertaken across northern Australia,” Senator Watt said.
“Australia also welcomes ongoing technical discussions with Indonesia. We will continue to take a calm and considered approach to our response on this issue.”
Indonesia is the biggest market for live Australian cattle, importing about 337,000 animals last year, which is worth $600 million.
Malaysia is much smaller by comparison, importing about 5000 cattle a year — the bulk of which are sent by air.
Australia presented a report to both nations last week, stating LSD has never been detected in the country and it was free from the disease.
“Malaysia’s decision to lift the suspension is… a result of a well-coordinated whole-of-government effort, led by the (Agriculture) Department’s technical and trade officials who helped gather the extensive evidence base that led to this determination,” Agricultural Trade Group acting deputy secretary Nicola Hinder said.
“Malaysia’s lifting of the suspension further highlights Australia’s robust systems for the ongoing monitoring of Australia’s animal disease status, including LSD.
“The Department will continue to engage with stakeholders to provide the necessary assurances to our trading partners on our animal health status.”
A meeting will be held between Australian and Indonesian officials on Thursday to try and resolve the conditions placed on cattle exporters in WA and the Northern Territory.
This was prompted after three export facilities — two in Broome and one in Darwin — were told on the weekend that they were required to undertake a nose and mouth swab as well as a blood test on every animal to be sent to Indonesia.
It’s understood this will cost Australia millions of dollars and means exports are not feasible.
LSD is a highly infectious viral disease in cattle that is transmitted by biting insects and does not pose a risk to humans.