Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased to appear before your committee.
I am joined today by Mr. Chris Forbes, deputy minister, as well as the assistant deputy minister of the corporate management branch, who is therefore responsible for finance, Ms. Christine Walker. I would like to note that this will be Ms. Walker's last appearance before the committee on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, as she is leaving us shortly to join the Treasury Board Secretariat.
I thank you very much, Ms. Walker, for your excellent service.
I am also joined by Ms. Sylvie Lapointe, vice-president, policy and programs directorate, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
I would like to begin by thanking the committee for its attention to key sector concerns, including food processing capacity, business risk management, and the contribution of the agricultural sector to the environment.
Like you, the government is showing dedication to the sector, as reflected in the 2021-2022 main estimates we are discussing today. Our investments in the sector total just over $3 billion this fiscal year alone. Over $700 million will help farmers and food processors take advantage of market opportunities. This includes our continued investment in our AgriMarketing program, which has helped our farmers increase their exports. This has been the case for Prairie oat farmers, who have achieved record sales in Japan and Mexico in recent years.
The $3-billion budgeted amount also includes $469 million for the third year of the Dairy Direct Payment Program, which compensates Canadian dairy farmers for the impacts of trade agreements with the European Union and Trans-Pacific countries. This program represents a total commitment of $1.75 billion. Producers have already received nearly half of this amount, as set out in our plan to make payments on an accelerated basis over four years.
The budget also provides more than $600 million for science and innovation, which will allow us to continue to support the work of our research clusters in areas such as safe alternatives to antibiotics, particularly as it relates to the pork sector.
The budget provides more than $1.5 billion to our enterprise risk management programs. We continue to improve our programs to ensure they meet the needs of farmers. We have removed the reference margin limit from the AgriStability program, which has been well received by the industry.
Also as you know, the federal government's offer to increase the AgriStability compensation rate to 80% is still valid.
Building on these investments, the recent budget commits to more than $800 million in new investments in the agriculture and food sector. The budget builds on agriculture measures announced under the strengthened climate plan by committing funding to help farmers scale up actions on farms in the fight against climate change.
We propose adding $200 million to the agricultural climate solutions program to put real dollars in the pockets of farmers who will launch immediate on-farm climate action, such as implementing practices to improve nitrogen management or to increase cover cropping and rotational grazing. The budget also proposes to ensure that the recently expanded agricultural clean technology program will prioritize $50 million to help farmers across Canada with grain drying through improved technology. It will allocate $10 million over two years towards powering farms with clean energy and moving them off diesel.
We know that farm employers are struggling even more to maintain their workforces because of the pandemic. We have learned lessons from last year, and the vast majority of temporary farm workers are arriving on time this year. To help workers and employers navigate the system as efficiently as possible, we now have a dedicated partner in Quebec: Dynacare. The Switch Health resources that were effected to provide support to Quebec may now be reallocated to serve other provinces.
As promised, the budget includes a commitment of $292.5 million over seven years to compensate dairy, poultry, and egg processors for the impacts of the agreements with the European Union and Trans-Pacific Rim countries. The budget also renews our commitment to provide full and fair compensation for the impacts of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA. We will work with the supply-managed sectors to determine these compensation payments.
Our government is also committed to providing no further market access for supply-managed products in future trade agreements.
Despite the significant challenges of the pandemic, our farmers delivered record exports this year and are well ahead of the pace so far in 2021. To help them post another record year, the budget commits close to $2 billion to strengthen trade corridors—highways, railways and ports. To keep the supply chain strong, we want to invest $20 million to maintain the extra CFIA inspectors in the meat plants so that we can eliminate the backlog caused by the pandemic. Also, to make sure farmers can take full advantage of the latest technologies, the budget commits an extra $1 billion to connect rural Canada to high-speed Internet.
As our significant investments in agriculture clearly demonstrate, our government shares this committee's vision of agriculture as a key driver for economic recovery and a key partner for the fight against climate change.
While there have been some challenges, the sector has responded well overall to COVID, and the outlook for the sector looks positive. According to data released by Statistics Canada yesterday, for the first quarter of 2021, farm cash receipts are already up 15.5%, and net cash income for 2020 rose by 36.5%.
The main estimates will help the sector continue to grow by taking advantage of market opportunities, strengthening its competitive edge through investments and innovation, anticipating and addressing business risk, and supporting sustainable growth.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.