Australia's exporters have been thrown a line thanks to the Federal Government's decision to extend a freight support program until the end of the year, with an additional $240 million in funding.
A spokesperson for the office of Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham has confirmed this takes total funding for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to $350 million.
The program was launched focusing on farmers and fisheries in particular, who have been hard hit by a spike in freight costs with fewer international flights in operation.
Minister Birmingham says this temporary program had already helped secure carriage of more than 36,000 tonnes of exports to 50 key international destinations, while also supporting the import of critical medical supplies.
"With international travel restrictions expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future, our exporters and key importers will continue to face significant barriers," he says.
"This is about restoring global supply chains. These freight flights have been critical to getting produce out the door during these tough times and helping to keep our exporters in business and connected to their hard-won established global customers.
"A key feature of IFAM has been the logistical and administrative support for international freight movements by aggregating cargo loads, negotiating with airlines and dealing with partner governments to facilitate clearances and improve transparency of freight costs during the pandemic."
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud describes the extension as a major win for Australian farmers.
"We're backing our farmers by making sure they can continue to get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets," he says.
"Keeping our farmers connected with their established international customers will help them keep their operations going so they can keep producing a top quality export product and enhance their reputation as a reliable partner."
Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam says IFAM has been critical to getting the seafood industry back on its feet.
"Under this program we've already helped get over $500 million worth of Australian seafood from almost every state and territory out of the water and on to planes," says Duniam.
"This funding extension locks in ongoing support for the thousands of fishers, divers, deckhands and processors that underpin our world-renowned premium-quality seafood industry."
Updated at 12:09pm AEST on 3 July 2020.
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