National livestock standstill - frequently asked questions

Page last updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2022 - 3:11pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

A national livestock standstill is when it is nationally agreed that specific livestock species affected by an emergency disease must not be moved. The livestock species affected by the standstill are named when the standstill is announced. Other animal species not affected by the emergency disease can be moved as usual. The standstill applies to every region of Australia, no matter where the outbreak occurs.

How long does a national livestock standstill last?

The standstill is initially implemented for 72 hours, but this may be extended depending on risk assessments. States and territories may end the standstill at different times, depending on the disease situation.

What diseases will result in a livestock standstill being called?

A livestock standstill will be called if certain emergency animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, are found in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) estimates that a large, multi-state outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease would cost the Australian economy up to $52 billion over 10 years as many export markets would immediately close and not reopen until Australia had eradicated the disease. This would devastate livestock and regional businesses Australia-wide.

To date, Australia has only implemented one livestock standstill – the equine standstill (for horses and donkeys) during the equine influenza outbreak in 2007. This standstill is credited with restricting the spread of the disease and reducing the cost and amount of time taken to eradicate it.

What livestock are included in a standstill for foot-and-mouth disease?

If foot-and-mouth disease were diagnosed in Australia, all cloven-hooved animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, buffalo, camels, alpaca, IIama and deer would be placed under a livestock standstill. To find out more about a livestock standstill for foot-and-mouth disease, see the webpage national livestock standstill for foot-and-mouth disease.

What are the benefits of a national livestock standstill?

While a livestock standstill will cause short-term difficulties to industry and individual producers, its medium- and long-term benefits far outweigh these.

Benefits of a livestock standstill include:

  • reducing the spread of disease
  • allowing faster eradication of the disease
  • reducing the enormous social and economic costs to producers, the livestock industries, regions and Australia’s economy.

Why should I cooperate with a national livestock standstill?

Government and industry need the support of every member of the livestock industries for the livestock standstill to be effective.

If you breach a livestock standstill you may spread the disease, make it more expensive and time-consuming to eradicate, and increase the amount of time it takes for Australia’s livestock export markets to reopen.

Under the Exotic Diseases of Animals Act 1993, people who move livestock during a standstill, outside the initial four-hour period, without an emergency permit from the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) may be fined or imprisoned. During a standstill, WA Police and authorised DAFWA officers have the power to stop vehicles suspected of carrying livestock to check for an emergency permit.

What are government and industry doing to prepare for a livestock standstill?

For a livestock standstill to be effective, both government and industry need to have prepared and tested livestock standstill plans for their respective sectors. This is particularly important for saleyard and abattoir operators, transporters and show managers.

In 2014, as part of the national Exercise Odysseus, DAFWA conducted four regional workshops with industry to examine standstill plans as well as a state exercise to test government and industry preparedness for a standstill. Outcomes from these activities have informed a national review of standstill arrangements.

How will I find out that a standstill has been declared?

Government and industry share the responsibility for communicating about a standstill and will use a wide variety of methods to communicate with all affected sectors. These will include media, online and social media, advertising and email.

Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity