Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'm pleased to be back at the committee again.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I want to thank the committee for its outstanding work in supporting the agricultural sector. You have recently been looking into some important issues, including agricultural debt, animal welfare, and the next agricultural policy framework. I want to thank you for your hard work and contributions on these issues.
The message I want to bring to you today is that our government will continue to work with you to grow Canada's agriculture and food sector. The main estimates before you show there is a federal government investment of $2.3 billion. These dollars are supporting a strong, competitive, innovative, and sustainable agriculture and food industry across the country.
Today, Mr. Chair, I would like to talk on three points: our government support for the sector, the next agricultural policy framework, and a look at the priorities ahead.
Agriculture is a high priority for our government, and proof of that is in the budget that we tabled eight weeks ago. Budget 2017 clearly positioned agriculture as the leading growth sector of Canada's economy. In the few years I have been an MP, I have never seen a federal budget give so much importance to the growth opportunities in the agriculture and agrifood sector. The sector is one of the six targeted areas in our government's new innovation and skills plan.
Budget 2017 supports the key drivers of a competitive Canadian agriculture and food sector.
On trade, the budget targets growing annual agrifood exports to $75 billion by 2025, expanding markets in Asia, finalizing the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union, $10 billion in a trade and transportation corridor, and $2 billion to support rural infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
On innovation, our budget invests $70 million in agricultural science and innovation to address the emergency priorities, such as climate change and soil and water conservation; almost $1 billion in superclusters, focusing on innovative industries, including agrifood; and over $1.2 billion in a strategic innovation fund to attract and support new high-quality business investments in emerging sectors such as agrifood.
On the environment, the budget provides $200 million to support the expanded adoption of clean technology in the natural resources sector, including Canada's agrifood; and over $5 million to extend the green jobs program to help farmers make green improvements on their farms and give young people job experience in agriculture.
The budget also renews the government's commitment to the next agricultural policy framework. We are making good progress on the framework. Based on the input from the agricultural sector last July, provincial and municipal ministers and I agreed to six key priorities as part of the Calgary statement. They are markets and trade; science, research, and innovation; risk management; environmental sustainability and climate change; value-added agriculture and agrifood processing; and public trust.
I had a productive meeting in Ottawa last week with my provincial and territorial colleagues, where we continued these important discussions. I look forward to the annual meeting in St. John's in July, where we will continue to work towards launching the next policy framework.
I want to thank the committee for its excellent work and recommendations on the agricultural policy framework. We are currently reviewing the committee's recommendations, and your input is valuable.
I can assure the committee that we will work with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that the next agricultural policy framework meets the needs of the sector and Canadians. Like you, we are consulting closely with industry and Canadians. We will build a foundation for the future for our great industry. It will support the growth potential of the Canadian agriculture and food sector.
As well as the next policy framework, we have a number of priorities this year that will build on our recent successes.
The comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union is a key priority. We are working hard with industry to make the most of the opportunities offered by CETA. The historic agreement will unite the markets of 35 million Canadians with 500 million Europeans. CETA will expand our agricultural trade with Europe by an estimated $1.5 billion a year. Beyond Europe, I will continue to work with all our international partners to promote our Canadian exports and ensure our trade is open and based on science. In the coming year, we're planning missions to key markets including the U.S. to meet my counterparts in Washington and the European Union, and a return mission to China. There is nothing like face-to-face meetings to expand our trade in these markets.
While promoting trade, I want to assure this committee that our government also continues to stand up for supply management. We are investing $350 million to help Canadian dairy farmers and processors stay on the cutting edge of innovation and make the transition to CETA. These important programs will be in place when CETA enters into force.
We will also continue to build our relationship with our largest trading partner, the United States. I recently delivered speeches to two key stakeholder groups in the U.S.: the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders in Louisiana, and the New England-Canada Business Council in Boston. I also had a very good call with the newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, last week. We both understand the importance of a trading relationship. We will also continue to promote the benefits of NAFTA, which has increased agriculture in North America by four times.
Moving our products is critical to reach new markets and grow exports to our current customers. You cannot have trade without transportation. That is why the government has committed to bringing forward legislation to help build an efficient and reliable grain transportation system in Canada. This morning, we delivered on that commitment when the Minister of Transport tabled legislation in the House. The proposed legislation is part of Minister Garneau's overall 2030 strategy. It will address key concerns raised by the grain industry during the consultations. This proposed legislation will help to make Canada's rail transportation system more transparent, fair, and efficient now and in the years to come.
Building on these measures, today I am pleased to announce the Government of Canada is also renewing the crop logistics working group. The working group has done a great job bringing industry and government together. I am pleased we can continue to benefit from these insights in the years ahead. The industry also told us that information and collaboration are critical to ensuring top performance. We need a clear and timely picture of how well the system is performing at any time. That is why I'm also pleased to announce the government renewed the grain monitoring program for another three years. This will give the industry an accurate picture of how the system is working and help us take quick action on any issue that may arise.
Looking ahead, we will soon launch consultations with industry and Canadians to develop a national food policy. We are committed to undertaking broad consultations with stakeholders and Canadians on the development of food policy. I understand that the committee may also undertake a national food policy study. I certainly look forward to your recommendations, if you do so.
Of course, we will continue to reach out to young farmers, who are the future of our industry. We will continue to ensure we help our youth get the skills and support they need to drive Canadian agriculture forward for generations. It is always so inspiring to meet young people who are so passionate about the future of agriculture. I held a number of youth-in-agriculture round tables and Facebook Live events across the country because it's so important that we sit down with youth and understand their issues and concerns and see how they view the agricultural sector.
Mr. Chair, Canada 150 is a source of pride for farmers because agriculture has such deep roots in our Canadian history.
Agriculture will certainly play a vital role in growing our future. Looking ahead, I see tremendous promise and potential for the sector. Dominic Barton, chair of the finance minister's advisory council on economic growth, recently issued a report stating that Canadian agriculture can be a “key” part of Canada's path to prosperity. Canadian farmers and food processors produce the best food in the world, and they're well placed to meet that demand.
While our nation has tremendous opportunities, we can take nothing for granted. Success will take a lot of hard work and deeper partnerships. There will always be challenges, but if we work in a united front, we can continue to have great success in this country. I look forward to working with this committee to grow this bright future in agriculture.
Thank you very much.