FOOD SECTOR LAW BULLETIN


Food Sector Bulletin April 2020

As business information exchange through networking events and meetings has ceased due to the restrictions on social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic Kennedy Guy, has made a commitment to keeping you informed by way of a Food Sector Law Bulletin. This is the first of those bulletins and we hope you find it helpful and a convenient way of being updated on important legal matters relating to the food sector.

 

SPECIAL LOANS TO EXPORT BUSINESSES

Export businesses may qualify for a special loan scheme being offered to Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The loans will be administered by Export Finance Australia and are backed by the Australian Government.  It is expected that eligible export businesses shall have access to business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under the new $500 million capital facility.

Find out more and see if your business is eligible for support from Export Finance Australia at https://www.exportfinance.gov.au/covid19/ or call 1800 093 724.

INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT ASSISTANCE

The Australian Federal Government has introduced an international freight assistance mechanism (IFAM) which will provide assistance to Australian food exporters in exporting high-value perishable products to countries including China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.  The eligible products include seafood, premium red meat, dairy, premium fruits and packaged salad and vegetables.

The IFAM is administered through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.  Freight flights will initially depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and will be determined by demand and market access.   If you wish to express your interest in having your products exported on these special flights, you should immediately contact the Department by calling 02 6272 2444.

RENT RELIEF AND SUPPORT PACKAGES

The Federal Government has issued a mandatory commercial tenancy Code of Conduct (the Code) outlining 14 common principles.  The State Governments are currently legislating to implement the Code and will regulate it going forward.

The Code applies to tenants that are small to medium sized businesses with an annual turnover of up to $50 million and are eligible for the JobKeeper Payment.  Under the Code, landlords must offer their tenants rent relief in proportion to the tenant’s reduction in trade turnover in the form of rent waiver or deferral.  The Code also rules that landlords cannot terminate leases for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any agreement between the landlord and tenant will need to be properly documented. Where agreement cannot be reached, the parties will be able to mediate.

On 15 April 2020 Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $500 million package to support residential and commercial tenants and landlords.  Details of this package are not yet known. The legislation is to be put into the Parliament on Thursday 23 April.  Further details of this package will be provided when available.

EXPORT CONTROL ACT PACKAGE

The Export Control Act 2020 was enacted by the Federal Parliament on 6 March 2020 and will govern Australia’s agricultural exports.  Rules under the Export Control Rules 2020 are being drafted.  The rules will outline the operational requirements for the export of agricultural products based on current orders and regulations.  You can find the current draft rules and register your interest to receive updates on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website:

https://www.agriculture.gov.au/market-access-trade/improving-export-legislation#export-control-act-2020 .

Businesses exporting meat or poultry products are encouraged to read the draft rules and make submissions in response.  Submissions on the Consultation Draft Export Control (Poultry Meat and Poultry Meat Products) Rules 2020 and the Consultation Draft Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Rules 2020 can be made until 8 May 2020 by following the links below:

https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/export-meat-rules

>  https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/export-poultry-rules-2020

Please note that this bulletin is not legal advice.  If you would like more information, please follow the relevant links within this bulletin or seek legal advice pertinent to your business.

 

Peter Guy  |  Director  |  Lawyer

t.  03 9311 8511

f.  03 9312 4990

a.  12 Hertford Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

e.  pguy@kennedyguy.com.au

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