Thank you, Chair. It's good to be back in, as you said, a full room.
We are here to review Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's main estimates for 2022-23, which total over $3.2 billion. These estimates reflect our government's significant commitment to the success of our farmers and food processors.
Over half of these estimates, more than $1.8 billion, will support key programs under the Canadian agricultural partnership with provinces and territories, which drives sustainable growth, innovation, and competitiveness of the sector. That includes our business risk management programs, with over $56 million to help farmers better manage risk through the elimination of the reference margin limit from AgriStability.
For this fiscal year alone, we are also committing over $589 million to support our dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors as they adjust to the impact of European Union and trans-Pacific trade agreements.
The amount of $137 million is to support and reward farmers for the adoption of environmental practices, including agricultural climate solutions and the renewed agricultural clean technologies program.
The estimates also include support to help potato growers in P.E.I. manage surplus potatoes due to the border closure. Mr. Chair, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the industry and government, on April 1, the U.S. border was reopened to P.E.I. table potatoes.
In the federal budget, we have committed a new investment of $28 million through ACOA and CFIA to ensure the long-term sustainability of the potato industry on the island. While these estimates reflect the current financial picture, I want to stress that we can still commit to new spending this year, as the need arises, through supplementary estimates.
The situation in Ukraine has worsened since we last met. I saw the Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture at the G7 meeting in Germany last week and reiterated Canada's full support for Ukraine in its efforts to continue producing and exporting.
Since Ukraine is one of the leading global grain producers, the world has turned to other major producers, such as Canada, to take up the slack.
Our agricultural producers are prepared to accept the challenge but at the same time are facing higher input costs.
We are working with our partners and industry leaders to ensure our producers have ongoing access to fertilizer.
To help producers cope with cash flow problems this spring, we have amended the advance payments program so they can receive 100% of their advance, including the first $100,000 without interest.
We have also extended the AgriStability deadline to help more producers manage the risks to which they are exposed.
Since we last met, we have continued to invest new funding to help Canada's agricultural producers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and enhance their resilience to climate change.
In budget 2022, we have committed to allocating more than $1 billion in new funding to help our producers reduce their carbon emissions and continue supplying us with food in a climate change context.
We are tripling our investment in the agricultural clean technology program and expanding the on‑farm climate action fund.
We are investing $100 million in science and research to promote the development of sustainable crops and technologies.
We are also adding $150 million to cooperate with the provinces and territories in implementing the resilient agricultural landscape program.
Labour access is still a major challenge for the sector.
The 2022 budget reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that temporary foreign workers arrive on time and that they enter and stay in Canada in safe conditions.
We are investing more than $150 million to reduce red tape so trusted employers can quickly hire workers to meet their short-term labour needs and provide better protection for workers.
We have also announced major improvements to the temporary foreign workers program, or TFWP, to enable food processor employers to hire up to 30% of their workforce through that program.
Although we are striving to meet current challenges, such as the avian flu, we are also keeping an eye to the future.
Together with my fellow provincial and territorial ministers, we continue to work with the industry to develop the next agricultural policy framework for the period from 2023 to 2028.
We had an excellent meeting earlier this month in preparation for our annual meeting, which will be held in Saskatchewan in July.
I am satisfied that, by working together, we can implement our common vision of ensuring that Canada continues to be a global leader in sustainable food production.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am ready to answer questions from members of the committee.