|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Experimental Farm Closures
Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in the first budget this year the Liberals announced that they were closing a number of experimental farms across the country. One of them was in Nappan in my riding. The other day I noticed an article in the Kapuskasing Northern Times which stated, “Minister agrees to re-examine farm closure” in Kapuskasing.
These farms are almost identical. They both suffer the same problems. The complaints about the process at Nappan and Kapuskasing are very similar. Will the minister apply the same rules to Nappan that he is applying to Kapuskasing? Will he come to Nappan, visit the farm, get a feel for it and then make a final decision?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, obviously our objective here is not to reduce the amount that we are investing in science, but rather to try to reduce our overhead so we will in fact have additional dollars to put into pure science.
There were some initiatives taken in respect of a number of sites across the country. Through the representations of a large number of individuals, provinces, my own colleagues within caucus, of which the hon. member is an example, and other hon. members, we have agreed to take a look at each one of these closures, to work with the community and the producers in the area and to review the way forward.
Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about a new structuring with new partners. I am talking about a review of the decision like the one that is reported in the Northern Times about the Kapuskasing farm. The minister cannot have two sets of rules, one for Liberal ridings and one for Conservative ridings. These farms are almost identical. They suffer the same problems and the same complaints about the process have been made at both of them.
Again, before he makes a decision, will he come to the farm himself and meet with the federation of agriculture, the industry and the community? They have fought so hard to keep this farm open. I ask the minister to give them the respect they deserve, listen to them and then make a final decision.
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member pointed out that the reductions that were announced were occurring in ridings represented by all parties. I think this clearly demonstrates that there is no bias as we are making in these decisions. I can assure the hon. member that we are dealing with all of these issues at all of these sites in exactly the same way.
I agree that the Nappan site has contributed significantly to science over the years. We will work together in the same way with all of these institutions.
Hon. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Agriculture. The Canadian agricultural income stabilization program, or CAIS program, helps protect producers from drops in income. However, producers have raised with me concerns about money being tied up in the CAIS account.
Will the minister please tell the House what actions he intends to take, together with the provinces, to respond to the concerns of my constituents?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as colleagues in the House will remember, in the budget we announced that we would be seeking a replacement for the deposit. We have been working with the provinces and the industry to move forward in this respect.
We look forward to a federal-provincial meeting in July and to having further discussions, but I am able to announce today that we have achieved an agreement with the provinces and that all CAIS money presently on deposit will be available for withdrawal. This will provide over $600 million available to producers.