Madam Speaker, it is indeed a great honour to rise in the House to contribute to the second reading debate on Bill C-282, an act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (supply management).
It is a particular honour any time I get to speak to a bill where I can highlight the work that the hard-working farmers and farm families in Perth—Wellington and across Canada are doing not only to feed Canadians, but quite literally to feed the world.
Bill C-282 may sound familiar to some members and to some Canadians because it is an identical copy of Bill C-216 from the previous Parliament, which was introduced by another Bloc Québécois member of Parliament, the dean of the House of Commons, the hon. member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel. Members will recall that the bill died on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved for the unnecessary summer election.
I recognize that both members who introduced this bill have a strong commitment to the supply management industry, which this party and many Canadians across the country certainly support.
I know there are some in this country who may not have the same vigour in supporting supply management, but I think it is important in a bill such as this one that we have a nuanced and thoughtful discussion on its strengths and weaknesses, how it may contribute to the situation, and how it may affect, negatively or positively, future trade deals in decades to come.
I want to talk briefly about food security. If we have learned anything during the past two and a half years of the pandemic, it is the importance of food security. When we have seen broken supply chains and shortages of goods on shelves across the country, it reinforces the necessity of a strong domestic production system.
We need to be able to feed the citizens in our country, but also to export the products that are created here in Canada across the world. I might add that when we have a country that is agriculturally as rich as Canada is, it is a crying shame that there are still Canadians who are food insecure. No Canadian, no person living in this great country of Canada, should be food insecure when we have the great natural benefits of our food production system here in Canada.
I have the honour of representing perhaps the greatest agricultural riding in this country. Perth—Wellington is home to the most dairy farmers of any electoral district in the country. It is home to the most chicken farmers of any electoral district in the country. It is home to the most pork producers of any area in Ontario, and it is in the top five for beef production as well.
Perth—Wellington has some of the most fertile farmland anywhere in the world. It is some of the most productive farmland that we will find anywhere in the country. The cost of that farmland reflects that, as we are now seeing land sales of over $35,000 per acre in Perth—Wellington and across southern Ontario.
I say that to emphasize the importance of the supply managed commodities, but also the non-supply managed commodities as well. Canadians and Canadian agriculture have certainly benefited from supply management, but there are also benefits from the world market that comes with international trade.
I would note that Perth—Wellington is home to more than 62,000 dairy cows, which is more than the number of people who voted in Perth—Wellington in the last election.
According to Statistics Canada, Perth—Wellington has over 350 chicken and egg farmers and produces over 28 million eggs. That is enough to make 9.3 million omelettes if one uses three eggs to make an omelette. We produce, in the combined counties of Huron and Perth, 542,270,559 litres of milk each year. That is enough milk for each Canadian to have a glass of milk for 56 consecutive mornings.
Those same dairy farmers and farm families provide over $1.2 billion to our national gross domestic product, and that is only in the counties of Perth and Huron. If we combine the counties of Wellington, Dufferin, Peel and Simcoe, which produce 385 million litres of milk, that is another $800 million added to Canada's GDP.
Let us remember as well the great influence of new technology on our agriculture sector. Agriculture is at the leading and cutting edge of technology. We have robotic milkers that have made advances in the dairy industry. We see folks in the beef industry making concrete efforts to increase sustainability and decrease greenhouse gas emissions within the industry. They are doing it on their own. They are doing it because it is the right thing to do. It is beneficial to farmers and the industry, who know the benefit and know they are the closest to the environment, the closest to the land on which they are stewards.
I have had the great honour and privilege to visit so many local farms in my community. I know the commitment these farmers and farm families have not only to feeding our communities, but also to playing their part in the great global supply chain and contributing to increased sustainability. It is important that these farmers have a fair and predictable marketplace where they can compete domestically and, for those who export, internationally.
All is not well in the agriculture industry. Certainly, farmers and farm families are facing the brunt of the inflation crisis and the challenges within the supply chain failures that have been caused by the Liberal government. Fuel, heat, feed, fertilizer, equipment, all of these costs are increasing at a rate that is not sustainable. One proposal from this official opposition is doing one small part to make that better. Bill C-234, an act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, would exempt natural gas and propane from the carbon tax for on-farm use. Canadians know that when farmers are drying their grains they need those things and for the government to apply the carbon tax just does not make sense. I am pleased that bill has finally made it out of committee and will be returning to this House for report stage and third reading debate. I am very pleased that my friend and colleague from Huron—Bruce was the one who was able to shepherd the bill through.
What we are seeing as well are the fertilizer tariffs. We still have not seen meaningful action from the government regarding the costs that were imposed on Canadian farmers for fertilizer purchased before March 2. In fact, just today I received another letter from the Minister of Agriculture, as I had begged her to address this, and once again she has failed to provide an encouraging response on this matter.
Farmers and farm families need support and reassurance from the federal government, not ongoing challenges, including, I might add, the unfair, unscientific approach to front-of-pack labelling labelling. The government was finally forced to back down from having it on ground beef and other single ingredient products.
The Liberal government unfortunately neglects too many farmers and farm families in the agriculture industry. In fact, if anyone had listened to the fall economic statement earlier this month, they would have found that a focus on agriculture was sorely lacking.
I recognize that this bill, Bill C-282, is largely a reaction to concessions that the Liberal government made in the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, the CUSMA, in which further concessions were made for dairy, poultry and eggs. I would note that it was under our Conservative government, under the strong leadership of the former minister, the member for Abbotsford, that Canada committed to trade deals with dozens of international countries, where we expanded our foreign markets, all while ensuring the supply management industry was properly protected. That is the approach the Conservative government has taken in the past and one that would be taken in the future.
Certainly, this bill has some challenges in how it would be implemented and how it would be dealt with at the negotiation table, but that is something that could be considered at the committee stage. It is important that the bill be given a thorough examination at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Recognizing that my time is dwindling, I shall move on to the final point, which is the importance of our agriculture and agri-food industry, which not only feeds our country, but helps to feed the world.