PM Trudeau delivers remarks on supporting Canadian farmers while visiting Gray, Saskatchewan
Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for being here today and thanks, of course, to Ralph. He gets me to come back to Saskatchewan every chance he gets and I'm always happy to spend time here every chance I get. So thank you for having me and thank you, as always, for an incredibly warm welcome.
I also want to highlight that it’s a real pleasure to be here today with Lawrence MacAulay, our Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-food, who was very helpful, as we were talking through the uses and impacts of various challenges on a farm. Lawrence was a seed potato and dairy farmer before he entered politics. He really understands and deeply gets both the challenges and the opportunities that our farmers are facing every single day and week.
Earlier this morning I had a chance to meet with the Lewis family, three generations of Saskatchewan farmers, the fourth one coming along, growing and harvesting a bunch of different crops -- Brendan wasn’t mentioned in my speech, so I had to shout out to that fourth generation -- growing and harvesting a bunch of different crops, including canola, on about 11,000 acres just down the road from here. I wanted to get a sense of how big 11,000 acres were and someone told me it was equivalent to about a third of the city of Regina. So that’s a significant chunk of land.
At the Lewis’s farm, Don, Todd, Rod and Brendan showed me around their operation. It’s fascinating to see the kind of equipment and the new technology they use every day. The constant drive to experiment, to try new things is something that we recognized just last month in our budget. We’re investing in agriculture and agri-food because we know it has a real potential to grow -- if you’ll pardon the pun -- and create more good well-paying jobs for Canadian farmers.
We know how hard farmers work. That’s why we’re confident that by 2025 we will be able to achieve the ambitious target of exporting, every year, 75 billion dollars’ worth of excellent crops that we grow right here at home. These exports are important because greater access to international markets will provide Canadian farmers with more opportunities to succeed, more opportunities to build better lives for their families, and strengthen farming communities across Canada.
And canola, as I saw firsthand today, is one of the export crops that deserves our support. It already accounts for more than $10 billion in exports and the world can’t get enough of this made-in-Canada crop. As one example, last year, as Ralph mentioned, government and industry worked together to ensure that Canada’s canola farmers can continue to export to China. That’s a market worth $2 billion in canola exports every year.
And I want to take a moment to tell you just how that deal came together. Our former Minister of Trade, current Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, is the daughter of a canola farmer, and she took some of the canola that her dad had grown out of his farm in Peace River, Alberta. She took it with her in a little baggie to China to show the quality of what Canadian farmers produce. I was there at the dinner when she whipped it out in front of the Premier and said: you know, this is really good stuff. And she underscored the fact that Canada stands behind its farmers and the world-class crops we grow and harvest.
And working together, industry and government, we reached an agreement with China. One that gives our canola farmers the kind of stable, predictable access to the Chinese market that they’ll need to be able to plant next year’s crop and maybe even think about how they’ll hand off their farms to their own kids some day.
The work that our government is doing, the investments that we’re making, and the trade deals we’re negotiating, they do make a difference in the lives of farming families like the Lewises and the other hard-working women and men who are here with us today. We make these investments in Canada’s farmers because every day you make an investment in us -- in making sure that we have good, healthy food to eat and giving us food that we can trust. Food that’s nutritious and safe to share with the people we love. And building strong and resilient communities -- communities like Gray that are the heart and soul of this country.
People like Todd Lewis and all the farmers he represents through the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, they’re up with the sun, they work hard all day, and they ask for nothing but a fair deal and a thank you. And that’s where I want to end today, with thanks to the Lewis family for sharing their morning with me, and to all the farmers here and across the country who are so and rightly proud of your rural roots. We should be proud. We’re proud of them too.