Govt sets up $2 mln fund to help SMEs caught up in Fonterra?s false food scare

The government has set up a $2 million fund for small and medium sized exporters whose business has been caught up in Fonterra Cooperative Group’s false food scare.

At a briefing in Auckland, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Trade Minister Tim Groser today announced a fund to aid smaller companies contact existing clients and protect business relationships that may have been tarnished by last month’s false alarm.

“Face-to-face contact will be crucial to both government and businesses,” Guy said. “We can’t allow this incident to halt the growth of our food export industry, particularly our innovative small and medium size companies”

Companies have until the end of the year to apply, and will need to export at least $500,000 into one of the affected markets.

The fund, overseen by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, will reimburse up to half a firm’s travel costs to a maximum $20,000 plus GST per business.

Groser said the government is working hard with the countries which imposed some sanctions in the wake of the scare to address those issues, and is making headway.

Fonterra executive and government officials are working with Chinese authorities to relay the findings of the initial investigations, while Foreign Minister Murray McCully has made a good impression on Sri Lankan politicians, Groser said.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have allowed 20 New Zealand facilities to export their dairy products, though question marks linger over another 61 facilities which officials are trying to clear up, he said.

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