These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Agricultural Policy Framework

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the minister's agricultural policy framework will eliminate the provincial companion programs.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is opposed to Ontario signing the implementation agreement because the new programs are less effective. A recent report from the George Morris Centre, paid for by the agriculture minister, will not change the fact that the proposed programs are unacceptable to farmers.

Why would the minister try to impose programs on the provinces that are against the best interests of farmers?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member was been briefed and was at the standing committee when I explained that the companion programs that the provinces had at the present time, if they had requested them and they all had, could continue for a transition period of over three years. After that, if the provinces wish to continue them on their own, if they are interested, they can.

Also, I think the hon. member needs to read the last part of the sentence in the report to which he is referring. It states:

--it is clear to us that the proposed new programs better achieve the six objectives of business risk management as agreed to by the Federal and Provincial Ministers in Whitehorse.

Mr. Howard Hilstrom (Selkirk—Interlake, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that does not change the fact if the farmers do not accept the programs.

Let us talk about the dairy industry for a moment. In 1995 the government signed the WTO agreement that failed to protect Canada from imports of dairy substitutes. The import of butteroil/sugar blends has reduced the market share for Canadian dairy farmers, resulting in lost income.

Why is the government doing nothing to correct its incompetence at the international negotiating table?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there has been a working group in process, involving four ministries of the government and the industry, looking at how we can try to address this concern that the dairy industry and we have.

As everyone in the House has been told a number of times, the report of that working group will soon be coming forward to the industry and to the House.

Mr. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, an independent study has been concluded on the business risk management component of the APF.

Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House if a report has been released and if so, does the report give credence to farmers' concerns or does it portray a positive program for farmers as we move into the future?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that the third party review did determine that the new program design would be a major improvement over the status quo. It concluded that the new program would better stabilize producers' incomes across commodities, better direct funds to areas of need, treat producers more equitably across the country and across commodities, be simpler for both producers and administrators, and help producers in their long term planning.

This review should certainly give the producers a high level of comfort so that they realize that under the agriculture policy they will have access to more effective programs to increase their profitability.