These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Slaughter Facilities Needed

Mrs. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, day after day, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food keeps trying to sell us on the merits of his meagre program announced on September 10. Yet it contains nothing to remedy the great harm done to dairy producers, nothing to reduce the huge surplus numbers of cull cattle, nothing concrete to open up the border.

How long will it take before we see any real slaughter facilities in the east and in the west?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the announcement of September 10 does contain within it components to build new slaughter capacity that can deal with culled animals as well. There is a managing older animals program that is part of the announcement of September 10.

As I have said on several occasions, we feel it is absolutely essential to deal with the cull animals coming out of dairy operations. I have made a commitment to work with various political leaders on this with the industry and we are working toward a specific solution in that respect.

Mrs. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, 532 days have passed and the border is still closed to Canadian livestock. All the while members of the Liberal government have given insult to our most important trading partner. Now they have alienated themselves from the new Bush administration by expressing their support for John Kerry.

How does the agriculture minister plan to get the border reopened to our livestock in light of the damaged relations that his government has created?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary. Over the last while we have had over 150 individual interventions with our American counterparts specifically designed to deal with the BSE issue.

I have met with the minister once personally. Twice we have had in-depth discussions about this. All members on this side of the aisle have been dealing with the Americans aggressively to get the border opened. That is what we have been doing and that is what we will continue to do.

[Translation]

Mr. David Smith (Pontiac, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the cattle farmers in the riding of Pontiac are experiencing serious problems in making their operations cost effective, as are their counterparts in the rest of Canada. One of their main problems is not being able to slaughter cattle locally.

My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Would it be possible to have our own abattoirs and to sell our meat locally at a price that would allow the farmers of the Pontiac to make a living?

[English]

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes a very important point and that is the need to increase slaughter capacity. That is why we did two very important things on September 10. One was to create a pool of money, a loan loss reserve, to help in the financing of new slaughter capacity. The other was to provide additional resources to the CFIA so it could effectively provide the regulatory framework so that these new slaughter capacities could be brought on line.