Australia extends freight flight support for seafood exporters

The Australian government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), which assists farming and seafood industry companies export their produce overseas, has been extended until the end of the year.

In a statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the government has poured in an additional AUD 240 million (USD 167.5 million, EUR 147.7 million) in funding to extend support to IFAM until December 2020. 

“This temporary measure has provided an export lifeline to thousands of farmers, fishers, and other exporters around Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic,” McCormack said. “With few international passenger flights at present, restoring supply chains has been vital to maintaining relationships between exporters and their customers around the world.”

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the program, which was first announced in March, has delivered 36,000 metric tons of exports to 50 key international destinations.

“With international travel restrictions expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future, our exporters and key importers will continue to face significant barriers,” Birmingham said. “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.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said IFAM has been instrumental in helping the seafood industry export its produce despite the border closures.

“Under this program, we’ve already helped get over AUD 500 million (USD 349 million, EUR 308 million) worth of Australian seafood from almost every state and territory out of the water and on to planes,” Assistant Minister Duniam said. “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.”

Meanwhile, Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) thanked the federal government for the continued assistance.

“On behalf of our members and the entire Australian seafood industry, SIA would like to thank the federal government for extending the IFAM until the end of the year,” SIA Interim CEO Veronica Papacosta said in the statement. “The AUD 240 million extension will allow Australia’s wild-catch fishers and aquaculturists to deliver an estimated AUD3 billion (USD 2 billion,  EUR 1.8 billion) worth of produce to key international markets including China, Japan, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.”

The measures, Papacosta said, have been essential to the seafood industry considering the massive downturn in passenger flights.

“Typically Australian seafood exports are carried in the cargo hold of commercial aircraft, but with few international passenger flights under COVID-19 restrictions, the majority of outbound flights were canceled which saw our transport routes disappear,” Papacosta said. “Restoring these supply chains has been vital to industry maintaining relationships with customers around the world, so we can continue to deliver our high-quality Australian seafood to every corner of the globe long after IFAM ends and COVID-19 has passed.” 

SIA also thanked Seafood Trade Advisory Group’s Nathan Maxwell and Jayne Gallagher, Tassal, and all members of the Australian seafood industry for partnering with the government on the endeavor. 

Photo courtesy of Ryan Fletcher/Shutterstock 


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