These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Agricultural Policy Framework

Mrs. Carol Skelton (SaskatoonóRosetownóBiggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, today the agriculture minister is holding meetings with his provincial counterparts. There is little expectation that the government and the minister will bring anything new and useful to the table.

What will the agriculture minister offer to the provinces other than blackmailing them into signing the agriculture policy framework?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will repeat again, there are hundreds of millions of dollars that the federal government has available for the provinces. Some provinces have not even agreed to put their 40% with that, so their industry should be asking those provinces why they are not there to support them.

As well, last Friday I announced the payment to the farmers of the second $600 million transitional fund. That will be there to help producers and that will go to all farmers across Canada whether they sign the implementation agreement or not.

Mrs. Carol Skelton (SaskatoonóRosetownóBiggar, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister can do a lot of extra talking but the borders are still closed to all livestock in this country.

For years Canadian cattlemen have called for year round access to American feeder cattle. Uncertainty is the last thing that the cattle industry needs right now.

The minister needs to answer the important question for our farmers. When will his government allow year round access to American feeder cattle so that for once and for all we can get this border open?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I know that is an issue with the beef cattlemen. It is also an issue with the dairy industry which has concerns about that as well, and they are different from what they are for the beef industry. It is an also an issue as far as health is concerned.

I have asked the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to do another review of the level of risk. That will be done as quickly as we possibly can to ensure that whatever action is taken we have the level of risk in reference to those specific diseases, bluetongue and anaplasmosis, as low as possibly can be.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, one mad cow equals 90,000 angry farmers, and today we can add several provincial agricultural ministers to the list, because the federal agriculture minister told his provincial counterparts earlier today that the BSE recovery program cannot be extended without running the risk of countervail.

How is it that the United States and the European Union can add additional programs to assist their farmers but every time it happens in this country the government cries countervail?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I do not think the hon. member understands very clearly many of the rules as far as the WTO is concerned. It depends on how one does it.

Clearly the beef industry has indicated to us that it does not want any action taken which might subject it to scrutiny by the United States under countervail or anti-dumping. The experience of that in the pork industry and the grains industry and some other industries has been very expensive in the past, and the provincial ministers, when we put the BSE recovery program in place, agreed at that time that when the borders started to open the program would end. They have known it since the beginning of the program.

Mr. Dick Proctor (Palliser, NDP): Mr. Speaker, farmers and agriculture ministers at the provincial level are frankly tired of national agricultural programs that never seem to work.

The BSE crisis is a case in point. Three Prairie provinces have all kicked in additional money over and above the 60-40 that this government always says has to be done, and incidentally, the federal government has not paid its share. The United States, more importantly, is aware of these provincial add-ons but is not taking any action because it understands the length and depth of the crisis that we have.

Again, my question is, how can the Minister of Agriculture justify the countervail bogeyman as an excuse once more?

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the federal government will pay its full share of the 60-40 BSE recovery program. I might suggest that if the hon. member really wanted the farmers in his province to benefit from the money that is there to help farmers across this country, he would go back home and convince the provincial minister in his own province that they sign on to the agricultural policy framework, because by not doing so they have not even committed their 40% to the programs and the money that is there for the farmers into the future.