These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Agricultural Policy Framework

Mr. Rick Borotsik (Brandon—Souris, PC): Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is April Fool's Day and the biggest April fool's joke played on Canadian farmers is the Minister of Agriculture and his agricultural policy framework. Earlier this year the minister said:

--we need to and will have [the APF] completed by April 1st so that farmers know and can plan with what support there is from the government in the next year.

The joke is definitely on farmers. Now the minister has no deadline, no plan and no program. Could the minister tell us when farmers can expect his beleaguered policy framework will come into effect, or will the minister continue to--

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that the last federal-provincial agreement between the Government of Canada and all the provinces expired on the last day of March, 2003. We have said from the start that there has to be a new agreement. If it is not signed by that date, it is to be retroactive to that date.

He knows that there has not been a disaster program for farmers since December 31, 2002. We are working with the industry to develop that. The member is one of the people who said that we should continue to take some more time to do that.

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture.

The minister stubbornly insists on implementing his net income stabilization program, which is angering farmers throughout Canada and Quebec.

With less than 24 hours before the federal-provincial agricultural safety net programs expire, will the minister show good faith and indicate his understanding of the agricultural situation by delaying implementation of the strategic framework he is currently proposing?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the agriculture policy framework is the result of concerns raised by opposition members in the House, the government and the industry that the government needed to have a long term program for Canadian farmers for the production of food. Farmers can now plan rather than, on an ad hoc basis each year, not know whether the money would come or what the amount would be if it did come.

The government put that in place last June. We have been working with the industry and the provinces. We will continue to do so because farmers deserve it and the money will be there for them.