The first wave of government aid for the Australian sugar industry has finally begun flowing, according to Agriculture Minister Warren Truss.

Sustainability grants worth A$73m (US$50.4m) are the first part of a $444m assistance and restructuring package for the beleaguered industry. Around $146m will be awarded to sugar producers under the sustainability grant scheme, which gives payments based on past production levels, reported Dow Jones International News.

Truss said the sustainability grants would help the industry overcome immediate difficulties, helping it through a transition phase as it restructures for a stronger future.