Thanks, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister, for being here. I thank you for your opening remarks.
Certainly, one of the things I took away from your opening remarks was that it's an exciting time for agriculture, particularly in terms of science and innovation, Bill C-18, as well as trade, with our upcoming trade agreements.
Let me first ask about innovation and science. In reviewing the estimates, I noticed that there's going to be an additional 30 million dollars' worth of funding, which will bring a total of $549 million for science and innovation. I noticed that the industry capacity fund is going to increase to $78 million. I noticed that market access initiatives are going to increase to $223 million.
We're going to see increases, because of the estimates that are in front of committee right now, in those three areas. Just a quick cigarette-pack calculation, this is close to three-quarters of a billion dollars in improving the competitiveness of our farmers to both compete in Canada and sell abroad. On top of that, we have, of course, Bill C-18, which just passed through the House.
Could the minister explain to the committee the importance of the increase in funding that we're talking about here through the estimates, and also the importance of science and innovation, and the government's focus on science and innovation in making the agricultural sector more competitive, particularly at the farm gate?