AUSVEG, the industry representative for Australia’s vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the government’s announcement to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until the end of the year, which will allow Australia’s vegetable grower exporters to continue to supply important export markets to meet the demand for high-quality fresh vegetables.
The government will provide an extra $240 million to the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to ensure that exporters will be able to continue exports to key international markets in spite of the dramatic reduction in passenger commercial flights, which are used to transport perishable goods overseas.
The assistance package has been important to help exporters get their high-quality produce into key overseas markets, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment critical to the ongoing health response.
AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development Michael Coote said the announcement of the extension was timely given that exporting vegetable growers were seeking clarity and certainty around the assistance package, which was due to run out in July.
“The extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism will be welcome news for vegetable grower exporters who may have been uncertain about their ability to continue to service their international customers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Coote.
“Australian vegetables have a strong reputation for quality and reliability in key export markets, so it is critical that we are able to continue to export our fresh produce and that vegetable growers have a commercially-viable avenue to reach these markets.”
“Demand has continued to be strong for Australian fresh vegetables in international markets, with enquiries still coming in from a range of key importers. While demand has been high, exports of fresh vegetables have been affected by the reduction in the number of commercial passenger flights, which many growers use to export their fresh, perishable products to key Asian and Middle Eastern markets.”
“Industry has been engaging closely with the government, International Freight Coordinator General Michael Byrne and his team to ensure that the needs of industry are being met with IFAM. We have been pleased with the level of engagement to date and this extension is due recognition that our fresh vegetable exporters continue to require assistance with logistics to continue their exporting trade.”
“The extension of the IFAM assistance package is a positive sign that the Australian Government is eager to help exporting vegetable growers maintain their existing markets – we look forward to continued engagement with the government to assist vegetable growers around the country.”