These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

What Are US Demands

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the prices paid for live cattle in Canada are determined by our offshore customers and what they are willing to pay. The United States is our biggest foreign customer, so reopening the border to exports is the key to getting our beef industry back on its feet.

What specific investigative steps and changes to regulations, if any, is the United States demanding before our beef exports will once again flow across the border?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the United States has not made any specific demands or requests. What it is asking is the same as we are asking here and what we are seeking here. It wants to see the results of the tremendous tracking and tracing system we have.

I am pleased to say that the second test on the case herd has now come back and, as the first test did, it is all negative. That means there were no animals in that ranch with BSE.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, while this investigation continues, farmers, ranchers and livestock exporters are losing $11 million a day. This is hurting our farm families.

This investigation, for example, has DNA testing of the McRae family farm. That testing has been going on for about four or five days to this point. When can we expect to see that testing on that specific indexed cow so that those animals can be depopulated?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is getting very specific. I believe he had an opportunity in standing committee to ask that question this morning.

I am not a scientist, but it is my understanding that DNA testing does take a few days. That is the tracking and tracing system we have so we can see if we can find other animals that are genetically related to the cow found to have BSE, which was taken out of the food chain. If there are other herd mates of that, we can test those animals as well. We have that system in Canada. Most countries do not have that.

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Quebec beef producers are asking why they are having to bear the brunt of a ban on their exports to the U.S. when there has been not a single case of mad cow disease found in Quebec. Yet the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's ban on American poultry with Newcastle disease was limited to just four U.S. states.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food explain to us why he accepts the principle of regionalization in connection with diseased American poultry but not Quebec beef?

[English]

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a significant difference between Newcastle disease in poultry and BSE. We are looking to find the cause of BSE in the one cow that was found in Canada. With Newcastle disease it is easier. We know the cause. We can isolate the cause of Newcastle disease and we can regionalize it because the cause is known. That process is recognized as well by the Office International des Epizooties.

[Translation]

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, we are just inches away from having mad cow disease waved as a symbol of Canadian unity.

I am asking the minister to show some responsibility and acknowledge that, with regionalization, only the affected region would be covered by the ban, which would prevent needlessly penalizing the entire beef industry across Canada.

[English]

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Office International des Epizooties does not have a provision for regionalizing BSE. It has not been successfully done in any country in the world. There is no precedent on that.

As I said yesterday, the beef industry is very much integrated in Canada. Cattle have originated in every province in Canada and as well, Canadian cattle are in the United States. This is a much different situation than the one referred to as Newcastle disease in poultry and therefore has to be treated in a different way.