Thank you for the invitation to appear before this committee today on this important study.
My organization, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, represents 43,000 canola farmers from Ontario to British Columbia on national and international issues, policies and programs that impact their farm's success. CCGA is also the largest administrator of the federal government's advance payments program, providing cash advances to help farmers better market their crops and finance their operations.
Canola is a staple of Canadian agriculture as well as Canadian science and innovation. Today it is Canada's most widely planted crop and the largest farm cash receipt of any agricultural commodity, earning Canadian farmers $10.2 billion in 2020. Annually our sector contributes $29.9 billion to the Canadian economy and provides for 207,000 jobs.
Exports drive canola's success. More than 90% of the canola grown in Canada is exported as seed, oil or meal. COVID-19 has demonstrated the critical role played by agriculture and agri-food as an essential industry. Agriculture, and canola production in particular, has helped spur our economy during the recent pandemic and economic downturn. However, there are areas for improvement domestically and on the export front to help further canola’s ability to sustainably grow Canadian prosperity.
The first area concerns regulatory modernization and innovation and the Canada Grain Act. The government must finalize the review of the Canadian Grain Commission and modernize the Canada Grain Act to ensure that Canada's grain quality system aligns with the modern grain trading environment. Updates to the act are essential to reflect the significant changes to both farming and grain marketing over the last 40 years.
The next area is gene editing. Health Canada recently launched consultations on new regulatory guidance around such plant-breeding innovation as gene editing. This is a positive step for canola farmers. Our country has long been a leader in plant-breeding innovation, but our current regulations around plant breeding find us lagging behind countries like Japan, Australia and the United States and Latin America. The future competitiveness and sustainability of Canadian farms rely on a regulatory system that supports such new plant-breeding techniques as gene editing.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency, or PMRA, requires consistent, reliable, robust and impartial data to fulfill its mandate as a science-based regulatory body. We strongly support the creation of a pan-Canadian water-monitoring program housed within the PMRA. Without accurate data to make science-based decisions, Canada could be perceived as a jurisdiction with increasingly high levels of regulatory uncertainty, thereby disincentivizing registrants from commercializing chemistries in Canada that ultimately help with our sustainability efforts.
Around domestic diversification and biofuels, to hedge against international market volatility, increasing the amount of canola used in biofuel will help create a stable domestic market for canola. Utilization of canola-based biofuels through the clean fuel regulation, or CFR, could create a new domestic market equal to or greater than the size of our Japanese export market, around 1.3 million tonnes of canola. It could also help Canada significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year—approximately one million cars.
To realize the potential economic and environmental benefits of canola-based biofuels, the final CFR, which will reach the Canada Gazette, part II, this fall, we must ensure that it grants full aggregate compliance to Canadian and U.S. farmers and that canola's low-carbon advantage is reflected in the life-cycle analysis model.
Last, around international trade, farmers are well positioned to provide safe, reliable canola supplies both domestically and to the world, but we require a rules-based, predictable framework to grow our exports. Promoting this framework will be even more important to counter protectionist policies post-COVID-19 as countries turn inwards. Trade is key to the world's economic recovery, and modernization of the World Trade Organization is essential to ensure that borders and supply chains remain open.
CCGA and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance are advocating for the creation of a chief of trade implementation position at Global Affairs Canada to strengthen Canada's capacity to monitor and mobilize resources to fully implement and capitalize on existing free trade agreements. We're also requesting the creation of an Asian diversification office that has the capacity and mandate to proactively prevent and resolve market access challenges in Asia, as 60% of the global population resides in Asia. Increasing disposable income and changing food requirements make canola an attractive option for seed, oil and meal. As well, for the canola sector to achieve its full potential, reopening the China market must remain a priority.
We appreciate the opportunity to speak with this committee today. We look forward to questions on canola sustainability targets.