Labor’s live sheep export phase-out panel has been given an extra month to trawl through more than 4000 submissions and report to the Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, in a move critics say show the Federal Government vastly underestimated the task at hand. The Federal Department of Agriculture quietly revealed the deadline extension this month, with the panel led by chair Phillip Glyde now set to hand down its official report to Mr Watt by October 25 instead of September 30. Farmers had for months expressed concern about the tight timeframe to create the report after six months of consultation, with Mr Glyde in April admitting to Countryman the deadline was tight and didn’t leave the group “with much time”. Mr Watt in July said while it was a “relatively short time frame” to deliver the analysis by the original September 30 deadline, he was confident the group could meet it after wrapping up 80 meetings and 22 public forums on June 27. The panel, which also included Heather Neil, Warren Snowdon and Sue Middleton, received more than 4100 written submissions during the consultation period. This included 800 written submissions and 3300 survey responses from individuals and organisations. WA shadow agriculture minister Colin de Grussa said it was “true to form” the Federal Labor Government underestimated the far-reaching ramifications of banning the live sheep trade. “I believe they saw this as a tick the box exercise, and I don’t think they would have expected the volume of submissions or the depth of submissions they received from producers and industry,” he said. “I am not surprised to extend it, so I don’t know why they needed to rush this in the first place.” A Department of Agriculture spokesman said the panel was considering the feedback as well as “expert analysis” on the potential economic, agronomic and other impacts of the phase-out. “The panel expect their report will describe what they heard and outline their recommendations on how and when to phase out live sheep exports by sea,” he said. The panel has also commissioned an independent report to determine the short, medium and long-term impacts of shutting down the trade and do a whole of supply chain analysis. That report is also expected to take into account sheep commodity pricing; and an agronomic assessment of likely flock and cropping composition changes on farm sustainability. An update on the consultation, posted to the Department of Agriculture’s website on July 27, said stakeholders had made a raft of suggestions as to how to approach the transition. This included bolstering sheep meat processing, expanding market opportunities, helping businesses reinvest, supporting regional communities, improving animal welfare, and providing financial support, among other ideas. Mr Watt has so far refused to say whether an upcoming report the live sheep export phase-out panel will be made public, amid mounting calls for transparency from farmers. PGA vice-president Digby Stretch, who was at the meeting, said everyone affected by the upcoming ban “deserves to see the report” after it was handed down on September 30. “We are pushing for the report, when it comes out, to be made public and I think it’d be great if there was a whole-of-industry push,” he said.