Flight support boosts agrifood exports

23/04/2020 - 14:35

Agricultural exporters from Western Australia, including beef and pork producers, have received further assistance, with the state government joining the federal government in subsidising international flights to carry their goods.

Alannah MacTiernan says retaining overseas markets will help provide a stable platform for recovery. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Agricultural exporters from Western Australia, including beef and pork producers, have received further assistance, with the state government joining the federal government in subsidising international flights to carry their goods.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism, announced by the Morrison government today, comprises a new network of 15 air freight service providers and freight forwarders.

More than 560 Australian agricultural businesses and fisheries have registered their interest in the program, with more than 55 freight flights secured.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the new network would increase assistance to exporters and help re-establish global supply chains.

“The COVID-19 crisis has led to major air freight shortages and disrupted supply chains around the world,” he said.

“Appointment of these airlines and freight forwarders will help kick-start regular cost effective services to key export markets and enhance the capacity for full freight flights of agricultural products from regional locations.

“We’ve already seen lobster from Western Australia, lamb from Victoria and salmon from Tasmania shipped to international ports and markets.

“The quicker we can get our products off the farm and onto airplanes, the more Australian jobs we can save and the quicker our agricultural exporters can bounce back.”

The new network comes as the WA government committed up to $624,000 to the state’s exports industry to help offset increased air freight costs.

The first state-supported flight departed from Perth to Singapore yesterday, carrying more than 40 tonnes of pork, beef and vegetables.

About 10 per cent of WA’s annual agrifood exports, worth $804.6 million, was exported between 2018 and 2019.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said international trading partners were vital to the state’s agriculture and food sector.

“With almost no available air cargo capacity for fresh produce out of Perth, the cost of air freight has sky-rocketed, in some cases five times that of pre-COVID-19 pandemic prices,” she said.

“The funding supports chartered freight flights into Singapore, helping to offset the current heightened freight costs faced by WA exporters.”

Ms MacTiernan said retaining overseas markets would help provide a stable platform for recovery and continue market growth and diversification, following the pandemic.

The state’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is working with the federal government on further funding and longer-term solution for WA exports.

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