|These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard
Federal Government Inaction
Ms. Denise Poirier-Rivard (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, BQ): Mr. Speaker, Quebec farmers, along with the Bloc Québécois, are speaking out against the federal government's inaction in managing the mad cow crisis. The federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food had set aside money to help cattle producers, but the measures proposed were not adequate.
If the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food wants to do something useful for Quebec producers, why is he not doing his part by providing $11.4 million, which would represent 60% of the cost of production, making it possible to set a floor price of 42¢ a pound?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the reality is that actions have been taken. For instance, the Canadian Dairy Commission has provided a $5 increase in the price of milk, a portion of which has been allocated to deal with the issue of older animals.
Second, in the contemplated rule change that the U.S. has put forward, the ability to ship meat from older animals is one of the considerations and this would have a positive impact.
Finally, as the hon. member knows, we have been working very closely with the officials in the province of Quebec to determine what additional measures would be in order.
Ms. Denise Poirier-Rivard (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, BQ): Mr. Speaker, during a meeting with the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Quebec's cattle producers repeated that the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food's plan did not meet their needs. One way to improve the minister's plan would be to provide financial support for the two proposals to purchase slaughterhouses, which would have a solid impact on Quebec's cattle production.
Will the minister respond favourably to the wishes of Quebec farmers?
Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear about our public policy in respect of slaughter capacity. We will support projects that increase the amount of capacity available to producers. That is the public policy. I have made it very clear to officials in Quebec that any proposal which deals with increasing capacity will be looked at very carefully.