Australia is set to begin live animal exports to Iran for the first time in 40 years.

The trade was banned after the Islamic revolution of 1979, but now Iran has agreed to sign new animal health certification protocols, which will allow Australian exporters to ship once again sheep, goats and cattle to the country.

“We have approved the health protocols,” Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce told reporters in Canberra. “This is great news for our sheep, cattle and goat farmers, and gives the livestock-exports industry the green light to begin trade with Iran.”

“The next step will happen very quickly because Iranian importers want to get their hands on Australian stock,” Joyce said.

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council said Iran was Australia’s largest market before the revolution and more than one million animals could reach the country each year.

Animal welfare groups criticize the move saying it’s a step backwards and that the industry should focus on the chilled-meat trade instead.

The RSPCA said: “The best welfare outcome for Australian animals is for them to be slaughtered here to Australian standards.”

Animals Australia has conducted over 30 investigations since 2003 into live animal exports from Australia to different countries in the Middle East and South East Asia, revealing brutal journeys and and even more brutal treatment for those who survive it.

A chilled approach: a better option than live export

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