These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Income Assistance

Mr. Paul Steckle (Huron—Bruce, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, during the debate yesterday on the extensive efforts that the government has undertaken to open the American border to Canadian cattle, I heard the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food mention that he had recently announced details of $600 million for agriculture producers.

Can the minister inform the House whether cattle ranchers will be receiving a share of this $600 million? While they are grateful that the border is open to Canadian beef, they will continue to experience financial pain until live cattle can be exported to the United States.

Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, certainly they will receive a portion of the $600 million in transition funds as they did last year and as they will this year.

The hon. member knows it is through the work of the government, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, cabinet colleagues, MPs and the industry, that every effort is being made and has been made, and will continue to be made. We will not rest until we have the border completely open into the United States.

With reference to the $600 million, yes, that will flow to all farmers in all provinces, as it did last year, within a very few weeks. For example, last year, it meant $110 million to Ontario farmers and over $180 million to Saskatchewan farmers.

Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, even if the U.S. embargo on beef has been partially lifted, producers are continuing to lose money and are desperately calling for help. The assistance plan ended on August 31, and the Fédération des producteurs de bovins finds it totally unacceptable that the government is refusing to announce phase two.

What is keeping the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food from answering the appeal of the government and the cattle producers of Quebec, and from immediately implementing a second phase of the assistance plan for the cattle industry, which has been so hard hit by the mad cow crisis?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday in the House and as I have said a number of times, we did. The federal government put $312 million into the BSE recovery program. The provincial governments added more money. I announced last week $600 million moving to farmers. There is still over $500 million available.

Let us sign up and use up that money first and then we will go from there.


Ms. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps on telling us about his famous agricultural strategic framework, but what is needed is not that, but an assistance plan.

The Fédération des producteurs de bovins has made it clear: the strategic framework the minister is so anxious to sign does not meet the needs of producers. They want a specific assistance plan.

Why is the minister so insensitive to the drama that is going on in the various regions of Quebec?


Hon. Lyle Vanclief (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is still over $500 million left in money to move to Canadian farmers. Many of those who will trigger that will be beef farmers.

We will move that money to beef farmers and to other farmers out there that need that support. Then we will talk about where we go from there if that is not sufficient.