COVID-19 Financial Support for Food Businesses

The Queensland Government and Australian Government have announced a series of loans and grants for businesses that may be impacted by COVID-19. For more information, please contact the relevant government department listed below.

Queensland Government support for business

**The Queensland Government has developed an online tool to help businesses identify what financial support is available to them.**

Queensland COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans

The Queensland Government has announced a new $500 million loan facility, interest free for the first 12 months, to support Queensland businesses impacted by COVID-19 retain employees and maintain their operations.

The $500 million concessional loan facility will comprise low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff.

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) is responsible for the administration of these concessional loans and is currently taking expressions of interest in the lead up to rolling these loans out as soon as possible.

For more information and to register your interest, visit QRIDA.

Market Diversification and Resilience Grants

The Queensland Government is also providing assistance for through the Market Diversification and Resilience Grants (MDRG) program.

The MDRG program will benefit Queensland agriculture, food and fishing exporters and their critical supply chain partners, as well as industry organisations working with exporters to build resilience by diversifying into new markets (international or interstate).

The program has 2 components:

  • equipment purchases
  • projects
Equipment purchases

Equipment purchase grants of up to $7,500 (excluding GST) are available to support new equipment purchases up to a maximum cost of $10,000 (excluding GST).

Applicants must contribute 25% of the total cost of the new equipment. The MDRG program will provide the remaining 75% of total costs. For example, if the total equipment cost is $10,000 (excluding GST), the applicant will pay $2,500 and the MDRG program will pay $7,500 (excluding GST).

Examples of eligible equipment purchases include, but are not limited to:

  • freezers
  • refrigerators
  • vacuum packaging machines
  • storage equipment
  • filleting machines.

Applications for equipment purchase grants will be assessed on an ongoing basis from Thursday 12 March. Successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

Projects

Project grants of up to $50,000 (excluding GST) will be available to support project activities including, but not limited to:

  • market evaluation studies
  • market visits
  • staff training
  • new equipment such as refrigeration
  • boat modifications necessary to meet market requirements.

Applicants must co-invest 50% of the total cost of their project activities or equipment purchases and should provide evidence of their contributions both in-kind (e.g. reasonable salary costs for key personnel, freight costs) and cash. Cash contributions must be at least 25% of total project costs.

Applications for project grants open Thursday 12 March and close Monday 20 April. Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 1 May.

More information about the Market Diversification and Resilience Grants is available here.

Immediate Industry Recovery Package

A $27.25 million package has also been announced to provide immediate assistance to help Queensland manage the impacts of the COVID-19.

A suite of initiatives will be available to support business and industry, support for fisheries and support for exporters.

Read more about the Immediate Industry Recovery Package.

Payroll tax relief package

You may be eligible for one or more of a range of payroll tax relief measures as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. These include:

  • refunds of payroll tax for 2 months, giving an average of nearly $9,000 cash
  • a payroll tax holiday for 3 months, saving an average of $13,360
  • deferral of paying payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year.

Read more about deferring payroll tax returns due to coronavirus.

Australian Government support for business

A range of assistance is also available from the Australian government to support business investment, assist cash flow, keep employees including apprentices and trainees in jobs, and assist severely affected regions.

JobKeeper Payment

The Australian Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper payment to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by the Coronavirus.

Under the JobKeeper program, businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months. This assistance will help businesses keep staff and assist them in restarting when the crisis is over. Around 6 million workers will benefit from the JobKeeper program.

The subsidy will start on 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by employers in the first week of May. Businesses can register their interest in participating in the Payment from 30 March 2020 on the ATO website.

Further information can be found on the Australian Government Treasury website. 

Cash flow assistance for businesses

This assistance from the Australian Government will support businesses to manage cash flow challenges resulting from the economic impacts of the Coronavirus and help businesses retain their employees. The two measures outlined below are designed to support employing small and medium enterprises and to improve business confidence.

Boosting cash flow for employers

The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure will provide up to $25,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $10,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff. The payment will be tax free. This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses throughout Australia employing around 7.8 million people. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020.

Supporting apprentices and trainees

The Australian Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. This measure will support up to 70,000 small businesses in Australia, employing around 117,000 apprentices.

Assistance for severely affected regions

The Australian Government has set aside $1 billion to support those regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education. This will include assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains.

Read more about coronavirus business support available from the Australian Government.

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

Under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme, the Australian Government will provide a guarantee of 50% to small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months.

SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans.

The Government will provide eligible lenders with a guarantee for loans with the following terms:

  • Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
  • The loans will be up to three years, with an initial six month repayment holiday.
  • The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will not have to provide an asset as security for the loan.

Loans will be subject to lenders’ credit assessment processes with the expectation that lenders will look through the cycle to sensibly take into account the uncertainty of the current economic conditions.

As part of the loan products available, the Australian Government will encourage lenders to provide facilities to SMEs that only have to be drawn if needed by the SME. This will mean that the SME will only incur interest on the amount they draw down. If they do not draw down any funds from the facility, no interest will be charged, but they will retain the flexibility to draw down in the future should they need to.

The Scheme will commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans made by participating lenders until 30 September 2020.

More information about the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme is available here.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Levy Relief

The Australian Government has announced that Commonwealth commercial fishers do not have to pay remaining Commonwealth fishing levies for 2020.

This means the levies to be collected by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 or the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984 will be waived from 1 April 2020, for the remainder of the year.

More information is available from AMFA.