These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Over 100,000 Producers Need Help

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the ruminant livestock industry is in trouble and it continues to suffer due to BSE border closures. Over 100,000 ruminant producers need help now.

It is unbelievable that the government does not hesitate to insult our U.S. neighbours, but it lacks the backbone to negotiate with the U.S. government. The government has no plans to convince the Americans that the border has to be reopened to live animals right now and not later.

Will the government take a firm stand with the American government and proceed with legal action against the United States under NAFTA or WTO?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it would probably come as a bit of a surprise to the U.S. ambassador whom I met yesterday that Canada is not advocating on a continual basis for the border to be opened. I think the point was made very clear to him.

In addition to that, as announced on September 10, the government felt it was absolutely essential that we develop made in Canada solutions so our producers could take into their own hands the types of business decisions that they needed to take.

All aspects of that program that were announced on September 10 are now in operation. We are working with the industry to ensure they can achieve profitability.

Mr. Barry Devolin (Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Last night I had a teleconference with members of my farm council back in Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. Even over the phone I could hear the growing desperation in many of their voices. The border is not opened. The CAIS cheques have not arrived. Farmers are losing hope they will see any assistance before it is too late.

My farmers are watching question period today. They are waiting to hear the Prime Minister's answer. What is the Prime Minister going to do to ensure that my farmers can survive at least until Christmas?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, certainly in the short term to ensure that there is liquidity, there are a number of sources of revenue that are going to beef producers. First of all, the CAIS payments in respect to 2003 are being made. Advances for 2004 are being made. The last of the payments under the TISP have been made in the last couple of weeks and a special cash advance for beef producers is being put in place.

To date, under CAIS, some $275 million has been disbursed this year and additional moneys will be disbursed. In addition to that, as I mentioned earlier, the September 10 announcement dealing with the long term stability and profitability of the industry is putting in--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.