Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's good to be back.
I will start by saying that I appreciate the work you do at this committee. I hear about it regularly. I realize that farmers' needs are always at the heart of your discussions. I want to thank you for your recent reports on mental health and indigenous peoples in agriculture. These are issues that impact our farming communities across Canada, and we have a duty to take immediate action.
Today, we are looking at the main estimates for 2019-20. The estimates underline the government's commitment to the Canadian agriculture and food sector. Over the coming fiscal year, we are budgeting $2.5 billion to support key priorities of the sector. This morning, I would like to touch on some of these.
On trade, the canola situation in China continues to be a top priority. Last month, I met with Minister Han, my Chinese counterpart, at the G20 ministers' meeting in Japan. I expressed Canada's deep concerns about the suspension of Canadian canola exports to China and urged that this issue needs to be resolved quickly. Canada's ambassador to the WTO—the World Trade Organization—has also urged China to work with Canada on solutions.
Responding to industry, we have extended the loan limit of the advance payments program to $1 million for all producers, with $500,000 interest-free for canola producers. The regulations are now in place and producers will be able to apply for new amounts as early as June 10.
We have also worked with provinces and territories to extend the deadline for AgriStability. This will give producers a great opportunity to make use of an important risk management tool in uncertain times.
We are taking a Team Canada approach. Our working group meets once a week, bringing together the industry, the provinces and, obviously, our officials at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, as well as Global Affairs Canada.
On the Japan mission, I was joined by Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada. We met with some key Japanese importers to look at ways to grow our business in this key market, especially with opportunities opening up under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.
I also took the opportunity to meet with other G20 ministers, including European Commissioner of Agriculture Phil Hogan, to express Canada's concerns about barriers to our durum wheat in Italy and our pulses in India.
We continue to diversify trade for our canola and all of our great agri-food products through new free trade agreements such as the CPTPP.
There is more good news, Mr. Chair. Japan recently announced that it will now accept Canadian beef from animals over 30 months of age. This gives our beef producers full access to Japan, so they can take full advantage of the new opportunities under the CPTPP.
There is more good news for our farmers and food processors. The U.S. lifted section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, which strengthens our relationship with our largest trading partner. As you know, the Prime Minister has introduced legislation to ratify the new NAFTA. Last week, he and Vice-President Pence both expressed the aim of moving forward as quickly as possible to ratification.
The new NAFTA is imperative for our agri-food industry. The United States and Mexico buy $37 billion of our agri-food products, and we know we can grow that business even more. We are also working very closely with the United States and Mexico to take measures to keep African swine fever from our shores.
Building on our international African swine fever meeting in Ottawa last month, Canada and the United States have reached an agreement on the application of zones. This measure will allow safe trade in pork to continue in the event of an outbreak of this serious disease.
Some $200 million of the estimates will support year two of the Canadian agricultural partnership. Programs under the partnership are also helping farmers capitalize on opportunities for sustainable growth while adapting to climate change.
In agricultural science, there's $70 million to address emerging priorities, such as climate change, and soil and water conservation. To help meet these goals, our government has committed to hiring 75 new scientists and science professionals in emerging fields of agriculture, and we have launched a world-first living laboratories project, bringing scientists and farmers together in the field to conduct environmental research that producers can apply directly to their farms.
It will help farmers adopt climate smart technologies at a faster pace. This made-in-Canada approach was embraced by G-20 agriculture ministers at our meeting in Japan.
Environmental sustainability is also a key pillar of our new $50 million Canadian agricultural strategic priorities program.
Mr. Chair, we have a busy few weeks ahead.
We are aiming to announce the details of our investment in support of our supply-managed producers and processors soon.
That includes $2.4 billion to sustain the incomes of dairy, poultry and egg farmers as a result of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, and the CPTPP.
As promised, we will support our dairy, poultry and egg producers who are impacted by trade agreements. We continue to work with industry to secure the long-term prosperity of producers and processors.
I also look forward to announcing Canada's first-ever food policy. There has been much enthusiasm across Canada. In fact, 45,000 people have participated in the consultations and I have had some excellent discussions on the policy, including at the recent national conference on food security. The policy sets out an ambitious vision to ensure that all people in Canada are able to access safe and healthy food through a healthier and sustainable Canadian food system. Therefore, we continue to work hard to advance the industry.
Once again, I want to thank you for your great work on some key issues impacting our sector.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you have.