Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and express our government's strong support for Canada's dairy industry. Canadians look to our dairy farmers for the high quality, nutritious milk and cheese products to which they have become accustomed. Our hard-working farmers consistently deliver.
My riding of Kitchener—Conestoga is home to some of the most innovative and productive farmers in all of Canada. Whether it is on Huron Road or Pinehill Road in Wilmot township, Gerber Road in Wellesley township, or Floradale Road in Woolwich township, all through the beautiful riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, we will find well-managed and well-kept dairy farms that are producing high quality milk and cheese products. That is why when it comes to promoting Canadian agriculture at home and around the world, we ensure that the interests of our dairy farmers and their families remain at the top of mind.
Our government is proud to put farmers first, to defend our supply managed industries, and to promote the competitiveness of the dairy sector. This support extends to our international trade negotiations, including the Canada-EU free trade agreement. We are committed to the completion of this historic deal.
With the exception of a new tariff rate quota for cheese and the elimination of the milk protein substance tariff, Canada has not provided any additional access to the EU on any of Canada's supply management products. In addition, the three pillars of Canada's supply management system remain in place: production, border controls and pricing.
That said, we understand the concerns of the cheese and dairy industry. This is why our government has pledged to monitor the impacts from the implementation of the Canada-EU trade agreement on dairy producers' income, and to provide compensation to address such impacts if they materialize. It is a big “if”. I am very confident of the ability of our dairy farmers and the dairy sector to compete, and I am confident that there will be no negative impacts. In fact, I see great potential for positive impacts through the Canada-EU trade agreement for our dairy farmers.
We have been consulting with industry on this issue over the past five months and we continue to do so.
As members know, Canadians love cheese. They especially love Canadian cheese. In fact, demand for our great Canadian cheese made from our high quality Canadian milk has been on the rise in the past few years. In my riding, on the very road where my farm is located and where I have lived for over 60 years, I just recently visited Mountainoak Cheese. I tasted the cheese, and I am very confident that this cheese producer, which is producing cheese for a niche market, can compete with any cheese made anywhere in the world.
Across Canada, we have our classic cheeses, Monforte Toscano, Avonlea Clothbound cheddar, Grey Owl, Oka, and Mont-Jacob, which deliver exactly what we expect: mouth-watering flavour and great textures. Our cheeses are recognized globally for their taste and quality, and for very good reason.
This past December, at the 86th annual British Empire Cheese Show, the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative from eastern Ontario was crowned Grand Champion and received two prestigious awards for its aged cheddar. In addition, in October, Glengarry Cheesemaking, just north of Lancaster, Ontario, walked away with the Supreme Global Champion award at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England. Its Lankaaster cheese was crowned the winner among 167 categories in Somerset, England, which is the birthplace of cheddar. This stuff is now flying off of the shelves in Ontario.
In fact, one cheesemaker told the standing committee meeting that she believed that there is an opportunity for Canadian cheese in world markets, including the European market, provided that exporters had the tools they needed to take the leap.
Beyond our award-winning cheese, there is a lot of good news on the horizon for Canadian dairy producers. Our government has boosted innovation investments and initiatives under Canada's new agricultural policy framework, Growing Forward 2. Growing Forward 2 is about helping farmers capture new opportunities, while building a strong agriculture sector for the future.
Under the previous Growing Forward framework, we invested in research clusters, including $7 million in the dairy research cluster. This cluster brought together industry experts, scientists and universities to focus on enhancing this industry's competitiveness.
Whether it is about the pork industry or the dairy industry, I am repeatedly hearing from farmers that they would rather see our government invest in research and marketing opportunities than go to their mailboxes for their cheques that come from the government. I am convinced we are on the right track.
Previous research found new practices to help improve the health of dairy cattle and the safety and quality of our milk. The Dairy Farmers of Canada did a great job in leading this initiative.
We followed up this great work by increasing our original investment under Growing Forward in the dairy sector by investing $12 million for a dairy cluster under Growing Forward 2. This investment will help to continue the cluster's great work over the next five years.
Overall, research in a new cluster is focusing on nutrition, sustainable milk production, as well as dairy genetics and genomics. In collaboration with our world-class scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, this leading edge research will make our dairy sector more competitive.
Genetic improvement for dairy cattle will boost productivity and profitability on the farm through greater health and feed efficiency. Canada is world famous for its dairy genetics, and the results of research and our strong dairy cattle improvement programs have helped to significantly improve milk production per cow over the last 30 years. We have opened markets in the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and South America, with exports of over $90 million in dairy genetics last year.
We appreciate the valuable role of the numerous organizations working alongside Dairy Farmers of Canada and our scientists who advance the work of the cluster, including the Canadian Dairy Network. I am proud that our government is supporting what industry has identified as the highest priority research by the best experts in the field.
Overall, through Growing Forward 2, we are boosting innovation spending to roughly $700 million at the federal level. With proactive investments of $3 billion by federal, provincial and territorial governments over five years, Growing Forward 2, as it is called, is driving sector growth and productivity. We are helping to achieve these goals by increasing our focus on strategic investments and innovation, markets and competitiveness. As we know, the dairy industry is a key economic driver, creating thousands of jobs across Canada.
Our government is committed to keeping this sector strong and profitable and helping all producers stay on the cutting edge. This is just part of the government's broader commitment to growth, to jobs, and to long-term prosperity, not just for the agricultural sector but for Canadians everywhere.
This is why our government will be supporting Motion No. 496. In fact, we have already taken action on a number of the initiatives that are described in this motion. Through the new dairy research cluster and Growing Forward 2, we can all look forward to continued growth and prosperity in this great industry in our rural communities and for our hard-working Canadian farmers.
I am thankful for the time that I have been given to express my support for the dairy industry, which has really been the backbone of the agricultural sector in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. I am very proud to represent the farmers there. I have had many opportunities to exchange ideas with them. Just recently, I hosted a round table with the dairy farmers and we were able to dialogue about some of the challenges that this presented. However, it would also provide to them with the opportunities that would be given to dairy farmers as they could benefit from the Canada-EU free trade agreement.