These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

CAIS

Mr. Dave Batters (Palliser, CPC): Mr. Speaker, beef producers devastated by the BSE disaster are being forced to decide whether or not they can afford to sign up for the CAIS program before the November 30 deadline. This government has made participation in CAIS a condition for receiving portions of the BSE aid money announced in September.

This government is forcing beef producers to pony up the dough in order to access disaster relief and it is clearly imposing hardship on producers. My question is for the agriculture minister or his designate. What will he do to help farmers who cannot afford to enroll in the CAIS program? And when will he commit to getting rid of the cash deposit?

The Speaker: The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the member should go back to the record and look at the minister's previous answers on the cash deposit and he will recognize where that one is at.

In terms of producers, who we recognize are facing financial difficulty, we have made the announcement of September 10, which was to increase our slaughter capacity, and we brought into place a fed cattle and a feeder cattle program so that producers can get better prices out of the marketplace. We have introduced other programs, the cull cow program--

The Speaker: The hon. member for HaliburtonóKawartha LakesóBrock.

Mr. Barry Devolin (HaliburtonóKawartha LakesóBrock, CPC): Mr. Speaker, CAIS was never intended as disaster relief. It was meant to even out cashflow in a business as usual environment. As it turns out, CAIS is actually failing two groups of farmers: first, the farmers who took money out of their own pockets to sign up for CAIS and still have not received any assistance; and second, farmers who could not afford the deposit in the first place and are now ineligible for the program.

BSE is not business as usual. It is a national disaster. We would not demand that flood victims put up their own money in order to be eligible for flood relief. Why does the government continue to rely on this failed program?

Hon. Wayne Easter (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would think adding with the provinces over $2 billion over and above CAIS is really not relying on that program in its entirety. We recognized that there had to be ad hoc programming and we went out there and did it. As I said, we are trying to manoeuvre the market price so that producers can get prices out of the marketplace. We are trying to increase the slaughter capacity so we can have a made in Canada solution. We are working with the United States and with Japan and others to find other markets for our beef. We are there for producers--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Cambridge.