These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.


Mrs. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the U.S. border has been closed to Canadian livestock for 526 days. Producers now more than ever need immediate disaster relief. Currently the Canadian agricultural income stabilization program requires producers to pay in large deposits just to trigger payouts. This is at a time when producers can least afford it.

When will the minister commit to getting rid of the onerous cash deposit requirement?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, what we have indicated is a willingness to sit down with the industry and have a discussion about exactly how CAIS should be restructured, if it should be.

I should make the point that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has made it clear that we should engage in this annual review. That process is being put in place. I made the commitment to them that as we review this, if there are alternative and better ways to make that particular program work, I am quite willing to listen to them and work at putting them in place.

Mrs. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC): Mr. Speaker, when? Producers who have applied for the CAIS program are asking the Liberal government to show them the money. Many are still waiting for their cash advances for 2003.

I ask the agriculture minister, why is he failing farmers by not ensuring that desperate producers who have applied already for the CAIS program receive the cash they need right away?

Hon. Andy Mitchell (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, not only is money flowing to producers under the CAIS program, but on September 10 we instituted a special CAIS program advance for the beef producers. I am pleased to report that to date, 4,500 of those producers have taken up the offer. We are in the process of ensuring that they have the cash and the necessary liquidity in addition to the restructuring measures that we took on September 10 that will allow our industry to be profitable with or without a border opening.