Thank you, Minister, for appearing before the committee today.T
Since we are dealing with the Estimates, I have decided to change my approach. I would like you to remember an issue which will hopefully not be forgotten, the compensation for avian flu. I have contacted you, like I had contacted the previous minister in 2007, about the concerns of poultry and egg producers. This is a rather technical matter. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has decided to offer $4.77 for each 21-week laying hen, whereas the Canadian Egg Marketing Board has set the value at $17.21. For a typical Canadian flock, this would represent a loss of $225,000. It would be a loss of $10 for each 25-week laying hen that is part of a flock of breeder hens of the broiler type. This change was decided by your predecessor.
At the time, Mr. Strahl had stated—and I remember that very well because I have his letter answering my query—that the amount of compensation for the loss of a flock would be changed in a first phase but that there would be a second phase administered by the Department which would lead to a new development in the context of the new agricultural policy, and that additional compensation would be provided after discussions and negotiations with industry and stakeholders. I would like to know what is going on because producers are still wondering about this situation. As far as I can see, there has never been a second phase.
I would like to know what the situation is and if you have followed the recommendations of the previous Minister. When he left his portfolio, there had not yet been any discussions about a second phase or, if there had been, they were aimed at one thing and one thing only, cutting the amount of compensation. You have to understand—this is not new for you—that those producers come under supply management. With the recently announced programs relating to business risk, they end up losing money. If they want to use those programs relating to business risk, they will not be able to get to any appropriate compensation.
So, I would like to know what your position is on this matter and if you intend to answer the concerns of those producers whose future might be compromised to if they cannot get any appropriate compensation in case of bad luck, that is to say in case of an avian flu outbreak. Nobody wants that to happen about we know that there has been at least one outbreak in BC.