Why is there a levy on cattle and livestock?
The Australian Government introduces levies and export charges at the request of industry. These levies variously fund research and development, marketing, residue testing, plant and animal biosecurity programs and emergency responses for industry.
The cattle and livestock transaction levy funds Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) research and development (R&D) and marketing, Animal Health Australia (AHA) programs and National Residue Survey (NRS) testing. The levy applies to transactions involving livestock (defined to include sheep, lambs and goats) and/or cattle (defined as bovine animals other than buffalo; there are separate levies on buffalo, deer and pigs). To find out more, visit
Meat and Livestock Australia,
Animal Health Australia and
National Residue Survey.
What is the levy payable on?
The levy covers not only sales but also transfers of cattle and livestock between production and processing stages.
Levy is payable:
- on each transaction where the ownership of livestock or cattle is transferred from one person to another, payable by the person who owned the livestock or cattle immediately before the transaction*
- on the delivery of livestock or cattle to a processor where there was no sale, payable by the person who owned the livestock or cattle immediately before the delivery
- on the slaughter by a processor of livestock or cattle purchased by the processor and held for more than 60 days for cattle and 30 days for sheep, lambs or goats after the purchase and before the slaughter, payable by the owner of the livestock or cattle at the time of slaughter
- on the slaughter by a processor of livestock or cattle if levy is not payable under (a), (b) or (c), payable by the owner of the livestock or cattle at the time of slaughter.
* This includes cattle or livestock sold with real property by a producer to a producer—that is, 'walk-in, walk-out' sales. It may be better for all involved ( vendors, purchasers, real estate agents and solicitors) to have contracts clearly indicate levy requirements and arrangements for their payment. This would avoid any confusion about who will collect and remit the levy to the Commonwealth.
'Are there any exemptions associated with this levy?' for information about exemptions from the levy.
Who pays the levy? Who submits returns?
Levy is payable by:
- the buying agent, selling agent or first purchaser who buys or sells cattle or livestock in a month
- the processor who slaughters cattle or livestock or takes delivery of the cattle or livestock, or
- the processor on whose behalf cattle or livestock are slaughtered by, or delivered to, another processor in a month.
The buying agent, selling agent, first purchaser or processor must pay levy and submit return forms to the Department of Agriculture - Levies. They can recover from the producer the amount of levy paid, by offset or otherwise.
If a producer completes a cattle or livestock transaction (other than a transaction on which a buying agent, selling agent, first purchaser or processor is liable to pay levy on their behalf) in a levy year, they must pay levy and submit return forms to the Department of Agriculture - Levies.
return form or contact your
Department of Agriculture - Levies state office.
What is the levy rate on cattle and livestock?
Cattle Transaction Levy
- cattle (grass fed): $5.00 per head
- lot-fed cattle (grain fed): $5.00 per head
- bobby calves: $0.90 per head.
Livestock Transaction Levy
Where there is a defined sale price:
- sheep: 2% of sale price (to a maximum of 20 cents per head)
- lambs: 2% of sale price (to a maximum of $1.50 per head)
- goats: 37.7 cents per head.
Where there is no defined sale price:
- sheep: 20 cents per head
- lambs: 80 cents per head
- goats: 37.7 cents per head.
No levy is payable unless a sheep or lamb is sold for $5.00 or more.
See 'General information and definitions' for details on lot-fed cattle and bobby calves.
Rates are current as at 1 October 2013.
Are there any exemptions from this levy?
Levy is not payable:
- on the sale of livestock (sheep, lambs or goats) or cattle at auction to the vendor; or
- on the sale or delivery of livestock or cattle between related companies unless the company buying or taking delivery is a processor; or
- on the delivery of livestock or cattle to a processor for slaughter on behalf of the person delivering the livestock or cattle if:
- the delivery occurs within 14 days of the person acquiring the livestock or cattle in a transaction where levy was deducted; AND
- the livestock or cattle are subsequently slaughtered; AND
- the person continues to own the livestock or cattle immediately after their hot carcase weight would normally be determined; or
- on the sale or delivery of livestock or cattle to a processor if the livestock or cattle are not, at the time of the sale or delivery, fit for human consumption; or
- where ownership of livestock or cattle changes on the death of the owner of the livestock or cattle or due to dissolution of partnerships; or
- where ownership of livestock or cattle is sold or transferred following a court order following proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 (however, levy is payable where livestock or cattle are sold to satisfy the cash transfer determinations of a court order); or
- on a leviable bobby calf on which levy has already been paid; or
- on the slaughter of cattle (other than lot-fed cattle) by a producer, or by a person on behalf of a producer, if
- the cattle are slaughtered for consumption:
- by the producer, members of the producer's household or the producer's employees; AND
- on premises owned or occupied by the producer; AND
- the cattle are slaughtered on premises owned or occupied by the producer; AND
- immediately before the slaughter the cattle were owned by the producer and kept on the premises; AND
- there is no sale or other transaction transferring ownership of the cattle, or any part or product of the carcase of the cattle, before, during or after the slaughter; or
- on the sale of sheep or lambs if the sale price per head is less than $5; or
- on the sale of dairy cattle for dairying purposes; or
- on the slaughter of livestock (sheep, lambs or goats) for consumption by:
- the owner of the livestock; or
- members of the owner's family, or
- the owner's employees
- on the sale of livestock and/or cattle by an export licence holder to another export licence holder if the animals are exported within 30 days of being acquired by the first licence holder.
When is the payment due?
A buying agent, selling agent or first purchaser who buys or sells cattle or livestock in a month must lodge a return for the month. Similarly, a processor who deals with cattle or livestock in a month must lodge a return for the month.
The return together with payment must be submitted to the Department of Agriculture - Levies within one month and 28 days of the end of the month in which the transaction took place. For example, the return and payment for the month of July are due on or before 28 September.
Producers who complete a cattle or livestock transaction in a levy (financial) year—other than a transaction on which a buying agent, selling agent, first purchaser or processor is liable to collect levy—must lodge a return for the levy year. The return together with payment must be submitted to the Department of Agriculture - Levies on or before 31 October in the next levy year. For example, the return and payment for the 2012-13 levy year* must be lodged by 31 October 2013.
Please contact your
Department of Agriculture - Levies state office to check whether you qualify to lodge returns annually.
General information and definitions
* A levy year for cattle and livestock is a financial year—that is, 1 July to 30 June.
# Lot-fed cattle are cattle that are, or are likely to be, used in the production of grain-fed beef. To meet the feeding requirements of the AUS-MEAT minimum standards, grain-fed cattle must be fed for a minimum of 70 days (heifers 60 days) and for not less than 50 days of that on a nutritionally balanced ration of a recognised high energy feed of which grain is the highest single component. Rations must have an average metabolisable energy (ME) content greater than 10 megajoules (MJ) per kilogram of dry matter.
# Bobby calves are bovine animals other than buffalo or lot-fed cattle that:
- have been slaughtered and the dressed weight of each carcase did not or does not exceed 40 kilograms, or
- have not been slaughtered and, at the time of the leviable transaction, the live weight did not or does not exceed 80 kilograms.
Statement to be given if a transaction levy is not payable:
If cattle or live-stock are delivered to a processor and levy is not payable under the '14-day rule', as mentioned in paragraph 5(2) d) of Schedule 3 and paragraph 3(2)(c) of Schedule 18 of the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999, the person on whose behalf the cattle or livestock are delivered must give the processor a levy exemption certificate. Contact your
Department of Agriculture - Levies state office for information on the format of the certificate.
What legislation covers this levy?
A legislative framework of imposition, collection and disbursement legislation authorises and supports Australia’s primary industries levies system. These are the relevant Acts:
Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999
National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998
National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act 1998
Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991
Please note that, under section 27 of the
Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991, an authorised Department of Agriculture officer can release the names and addresses of levy payers to industry bodies and levy recipient organisations.
Download the legislation from
ComLaw or call CanPrint Information Services on 02 6293 8383 to purchase a copy.
This information sheet is a guide only and does not substitute for the relevant legislation.