Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am delighted to be with you again. In Canada, we are all driven by this same passion and commitment to agriculture.
First, I would like to thank you for your dedication. You immediately got to work to discuss business risk management programs, an issue that is very important to our producers, and one that I pay particular attention to.
Our government is working hard to support producers and help grow the Canadian agriculture sector, and the supplementary estimates we are discussing today are proof of that. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supplementary estimates total $435 million, for a total annual budget of close to $3 billion. Of that amount, we are investing $345 million in the first installment of the full and fair compensation that we committed to our dairy producers for the impact from our trade agreements with the European Union and the trans-Pacific zone.
The estimate also includes $21.4 million to meet increased demands for the advance payments program. These funds are related to the improvements we made last year to the APP, including increasing the interest-free cash advances available to canola producers from $100,000 to $500,000, and raising the total advances available for canola and all other commodities to $1 million, up from $400,000.
Producers have long been requesting these changes that will give them more access to liquid assets. We are proud to have been able to increase this support.
In addition, $55.3 million is allocated to the Canadian agricultural partnership to give the provinces more flexibility to implement regional programs.
Mr. Chair, I care deeply about our Canadian farmers. They have been incredibly resilient in the face of stressful challenges this past year. Poor seeding and harvesting conditions in many parts of the country, market access challenges, including canola in China, and then a rail strike followed by the blockades have resulted in difficulties moving products to market, accessing input supplies, and have affected profitability.
We worked hard to reach lasting and peaceful solutions, and it is encouraging to see commodities moving again.
We are closely monitoring the impacts of the coronavirus on the agriculture sector. This is a global challenge, and with the help of the recently announced response fund, we are well positioned to respond. Trade is a key priority for our farmers, and we continue to work hard to help capture the amazing opportunities that lie ahead.
Our efforts are paying off. Last year, Canada's agriculture, food and seafood exports reached over $67 billion, continuing growth towards reaching our goal of $75 billion in exports by 2025. The value of Canadian grain exports has increased by 25% since 2016. Our cattle and beef exports were up by over 20%, and in Japan, they rose by almost 70%, as producers begin to reap the benefits of the CPTPP.
While we continue to diversify our trade, we are working to strengthen our relationship with our largest trading partner to the south. Last month, Secretary Perdue and I discussed the importance of the new NAFTA and our commitment to ratifying it as soon as possible. Hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on this trade relationship. I also reminded the secretary of the importance and value of Canada's supply management system.
Obviously, government support to our agricultural producers isn't limited to trade support. With regard to supply-managed sectors, we are making progress on the compensation promised. Already, almost $345 million has been disbursed in direct payments to dairy producers, in addition to investment programs on farms and in dairy processing, for a total of $423 million in this fiscal year. We are about to finalize compensation for the other producers and processors, according to their preferences. We will do the same regarding CUSMA.
We are also continuing to improve our federal-provincial-territorial risk management programs. It's my very first objective among all of those set out in my mandate letter by the Prime Minister.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for undertaking a study on business risk management programs, and I hope your work will be constructive. Your recommendations will be given careful consideration, and I hope your work will help to improve these programs for our agricultural producers.
With my colleagues from the provinces and territories, we have made some immediate improvements to AgriStability. Starting this year, private insurance payments won't count against farmers' AgriStability payments.
As well, we have asked officials to look at each and every program and tell us whether they are meeting their objectives and, if not, to identify gaps. Farmers face new business risks, and trade and climate have more impact on today's farms.
I also look forward to the committee's review of BRM programs. Together, we will help to ensure they deliver for our farmers.
Producers tell me that environmental protection is in their DNA. They aren't farming their land just for today, but also for future generations. However, producers must have access to new green technologies, to better products and better practices. That's where we want to help them.
We continue to make investments in innovation and environmental sustainability. For example, last week, on Prince Edward Island, we partnered with the province to announce a joint investment under the agricultural clean technology program. The funding will help organic greenhouse producers transition to 100% clean energy.
Sustainability is not only about the environment. For farmers, sustainability is also economic and social, and that includes mental health.
When I talk about diversification, I think in terms of markets but also of a wider range of products, value added.
Investing in innovation is another way to increase the demand and to get more money for the products we have.
Within the Food Policy for Canada, we are also working to create trust and pride in Canadian agriculture and our producers through a new $25-million “buy Canadian” initiative.
Lastly, we must work together to prepare the next generation of Canadian producers and processors. I'm working with the Minister of Finance to facilitate the intergenerational transfer of farm operations. A family farm is a life's work, so we must help the next generation to take up the torch.
We also need to have a greater diversity of views around the table, as we all see the challenges and opportunities differently. To encourage our young people to take leadership roles in the sector, I am pleased to launch the first Canadian Agricultural Youth Council.
I want to hear directly from youth across the country, including indigenous communities, about their vision for agriculture. We must give them what they need to succeed. The future belongs to them.
Likewise, we need more women in leadership positions in agriculture. It's encouraging to see more women stepping forward. Their perspective is vital to help shape a sustainable future for our industry.
I understand the pressures faced by producers, along with higher levels of stress. Canadian farmers work hard to feed us. I'm inspired by their resilience, their ability to innovate and their respect for the environment and animal welfare. These women and men deserve our greatest respect.
I know that everyone around this table is committed to doing everything in our power to ensure they have a future full of promise for them and for the coming generations.
I'd like to thank the committee for its dedication to agriculture and for its co-operation.
I would be pleased to discuss this with you. Thank you.