Madam Speaker, it will be a 10-minute speech. I will pick up where I left off.
How can the Conservatives claim to defend our Canadian producers while questioning an innovative system that guarantees them a fair income to feed and house their families while they do work they love?
Agricultural land accounts for 75% of my riding, and 15% of our jobs are directly or indirectly related to the agriculture and agri-food industry. My constituents realize that they cannot put a lot of faith in that kind of doublespeak.
The Government of Canada is determined to promote research and development so that our dairy industry can prosper in a constantly evolving global economy. The Government of Canada even invested $19 million in the dairy research group. The group is responsible for 23 research projects and employs over 100 scientists from 15 institutions and eight government research centres in Canada, including the cutting-edge facility in the Sherbrooke area.
In its leadership role, the dairy industry focuses on a certain number of key fields, such as the nutritional profile of dairy products. These sizeable investments will also support the research being done by scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in two key areas: improving the quality of forage crops in Canada, which will help increase our milk production capacity, and understanding the role played by dairy-fat products, including their positive impact on people with type 2 diabetes.
We support this report. We are quite aware that diafiltered milk is not the only concern here: we also have to ensure that our supply management system functions effectively and over the long term in a global economy that is constantly changing.
To fully understand the sector’s concerns, we promised to consult with its various players, and that is exactly what we have done.
While others are working to abolish supply management, the system that allows farm families to earn a fair and dignified living from their calling, our government is making every possible effort to protect it.
In recent weeks, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada officials, the minister, and his parliamentary secretary have held discussions with representatives from all dairy sectors, ranging from small farmers to the bigger producers, processors, and the provincial and national producers’ associations.
These consultations have been very productive. They have enabled us to collect quality information that will help us build solid long-term bases for our dairy sector and for our supply management system.
Let us turn now to the future of agriculture in Canada, a promising future filled with opportunities for expansion, given the constantly growing global demand. More and more Canadian consumers are choosing Canadian dairy products because of their quality. To help our agricultural and agri-food industry seize these opportunities and build a solid, promising future, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments have committed to developing the next agricultural policy framework, which will guarantee better results for the sector.
This framework will be more focused on innovation and on strengthening the sector’s competitiveness, while aiming to improve sustainability and opportunities for the various links in the agriculture and agri-food supply chain.
The next policy framework will also enable the sector to properly manage risks in a productive manner, in order to provide farms with more stability. We are currently meeting with industry representatives to discuss the challenges before us.
In closing, productive and effective consultations, huge investments in R and D in the dairy sector, and the development of the next agriculture policy framework, which will focus on innovation, marketing, and risk management ,are all measures our government is taking to protect Canadian agriculture.
I am confident that all the effort and energy that our government is putting into this in the interest of Canadian farmers will result in a strategy that will ensure the long-term sustainability of our supply management system.
Supply management helps provide farmers with a fair and stable income in return for their dedication, while allowing them to remain competitive. This system also helps ensure that Canadians receive the best-quality products, produced by farmers in our own communities, processed in our communities, and at stable, predictable prices.
We on this side of the House will denounce anyone who would abolish such a system. Unlike the Conservatives, who say that the fundamentals of supply management fly in the face of their fundamental values, to the Liberal Party, those values are in our DNA. We fought to introduce supply management 40 years ago, and today we will do everything we can to protect it.
As the government, we want to ensure that our farmers are in the best possible position and that our food processing sector is on the leading edge of technology, and we will defend supply management against anyone who wants to eliminate it.