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View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean-Yves Duclos Profile
2020-05-13 16:50 [p.2300]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my own support to this bill to amend the Canadian Diary Commission Act.
As others have said, this bill is urgently needed by our Canadian dairy sector. We are talking about an industry that drives our economy, and our rural communities in particular, with over $6 billion in sales on the farm, almost $15 billion in processor sales, and tens of thousands of jobs. That is why our government continues to support a strong supply management system in Canada.
The Canadian Dairy Commission continues to be an excellent partner in supporting a strong and critical supply management system for dairy producers across the country, as it has been doing for the past half century. One of its main roles is to help maintain the balance between supply and demand and avoid surpluses, as we have seen during the COVID-19 crisis.
Because of the closure of restaurants, hotels and schools, the demand for dairy products dropped significantly, leaving dairy producers with a surplus. Producers and producer groups did everything they could to manage the surplus by reducing quotas and donating to food banks. However, more needs to be done. That is why this bill is so important.
The Canadian Dairy Commission needs a greater capacity to fully meet the industry's needs, and that is what this bill offers by increasing the commission's borrowing capacity to fund the purchase and storage of surplus dairy products.
I therefore urge all my fellow MPs to support this bill to amend the Canadian Dairy Commission Act. Canada's dairy producers have endorsed this measure, which will give the industry the help it desperately needs and help sustain the supply chain. This amendment to the Canadian Dairy Commission Act is another sign of our government's strong and ongoing support for the dairy industry and our supply management system.
We know that international trade is also vital for our economy and our jobs in this country. Canada is indeed a trading nation. To maximize our trade opportunities, we have completed trade agreements with our key trading partners in Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America.
That said, we are balancing our pro-trade agenda with our continued strong commitment to supply management. I can tell everyone that during the negotiations for the new NAFTA, we defended our system against a concerted effort to dismantle it entirely.
At the same time, we also know that some access to our Canadian dairy markets was granted, which is why we sat down with supply management groups and worked out the best way to deliver full and fair compensation to Canadian supply-managed producers.
To help dairy producers manage the impact of the CPTPP and CETA, we committed to an investment of $1.75 billion. We have already sent out $345 million to dairy farmers in direct payments based on their quota holdings. I want to recognize the great work done by the Canadian Dairy Commission in helping us deliver these dollars to producers as quickly as possible.
As well, we have invested $350 million in programs to help dairy producers and processors boost their production and compete. The producer portion of this investment is $250 million for the dairy farm investment program. Right across Canada, this program is helping well over 3,000 dairy farmers make key investments in animal comfort, new feeding and milking systems, ventilation systems and many others. These innovations are helping dairy farmers reduce their costs, boost their productivity and improve their efficiency. The result is a stronger, more profitable operation. That is good news for our dairy industry, for our communities, for consumers and for our economy.
Of course, we will continue to move forward with the compensation, not only for dairy producers, but for poultry and egg producers as well. We will sit down with the industry to determine the best way forward for compensation for new access under the new NAFTA.
We absolutely have to help our dairy producers remain financially viable while meeting consumer demand for an industry that is both innovative and sustainable. We are pleased to be working with the Canadian Dairy Commission to develop a vision for the future and an ambitious strategic plan for Canada's dairy sector. This bill will help the sector get through this crisis and secure its future.
I would also like to remind the House that, in recent decades, the industry has made major progress on the production, innovation and environmental sustainability fronts. For example, the carbon footprint of a glass of milk is now just one-third of what it was in the 1950s. We owe that kind of progress and so much more to innovation in the areas of dairy cow genetics, feed and management and to farmers' outstanding work.
Our government is proud to be helping Canada's dairy industry pave the way when it comes to innovation and technology. Let us support our industry and show our pride in its hour of greatest need by passing this bill. Let us keep working with producers and processors to support every part of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.
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