The Australian Government has provided $170 million in economic support for farmers and growers across regional Australia. The funding is being provided to support the agricultural exports during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen Australia and many other countries close their borders.
Federal Member for Wright, Scott Buchholz said by helping farmers export their world class produce, we were ensuring they stayed in business, were able to maintain, keep cash in their local economies and come out the other side.
“The Government is investing $110 million into the International Freight Assistance Mechanism, to provide agricultural exporters with the capacity to restore their exports, such as the fresh food and dairy grown and processed in the region, including the Fassifern and Lockyer Valleys into key consumer markets.
“The upside – is the flights engaged to carry the produce freight out of Australia, will fly back with additional medical supplies and equipment, to support our health system. This is a win win!
“Our response to this pandemic remains clear: save lives and save livelihoods. Every element of our response is guided by that core principal.
“Here in Wright, agriculture and horticulture, processing and packaging is a large, key element of the economy and makeup a considerable portion of the workforce. Not to mention the supply chain that supports it – transport, seed and fertiliser providers, machinery and so on.
“We have to keep our focus on supporting Australians through this and agriculture is key to that. Because without our farmers, without our growers, without our processors – we do not only lose jobs and income, we lose the very people that supply the food our families buy and eat,” Mr Buchholz said.
The suite of measures announced will support local businesses, such as Qualipac to continue to sell product into key markets.
Troy Qualischefski of Qualipac said the Government was actively listening to the sector and responding to the needs of farmers and growers to stay in business and do what they do best – grow and produce world class food.
“Most industries have been affected in some way by this pandemic and agriculture is no different, particularly with regards to exports. It has definitely presented some challenges in getting produce to overseas markets and the Government’s support for this cause is certainly welcomed”.
“For our business, export is a vital part and anything that assists in keeping this part of our business ticking over during this time is valuable. It means we are better able to maintain our sales volumes and importantly, keep our team members employed.
Mr Buchholz also said the Australian Government was injecting $49.8 million in additional funding for the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) program, providing exporters to be reimbursed for the costs of marketing their products around the world.
“What this does for our local exporters, whether they are marketing food such as broccoli and beans, or carrots and celery – or even wine – it provides relief and helps with cash flow.
“Our Government recognises the impact of the pandemic on all businesses, on all Australians and all communities. That is why we’re taking additional measures to support our agricultural sector and exporters – their capacity to sell their product has been halted in some respects.
“I welcome the boost to the EMDG program, it’s popular with farmers and grower groups and it puts cash back into pockets. Many businesses put their money up, invested in export markets and as a result of something way outside of their control, that good faith, that great work they are unlikely to see returns on those investments.
“On the back of flood, storm, drought and fires – farmers and growers have taken a hit – we’re backing them in at this critical time,” Mr Buchholz said.
Businesses within the scheme who have spent their own money to market and grow Australian exports will receive more of that money back, up to 50 per cent of their total eligible marketing expenses. Last year alone, almost 4000 Small and Medium Enterprises accessed the EMDG scheme, employing almost 70,000 Australians and generating exports worth $3.8 billion.
Last week, Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham announced further finance support for Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, unlocking business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia.
The initiative is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
$10 million in levies waived through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority
$110 million for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism
$49.8 million in Export Market Development Grants
Access to the International Freight Assistance Mechanism
Express interest by:
Calling: (02) 6272 2444.
The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will be overseen by newly appointed International Freight Coordinator General Michael Byrne, former Managing Director of Toll Holdings and Linfox. The initiative will initially focus on the key markets of:
· United Arab Emirates
· Hong Kong
Further information on the EMDG scheme and how to apply can be found at: www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants