Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide a little background on the dairy industry in Canada. In the 1960s, there was no supply management in the dairy industry. Farmers were producing as much milk as they wanted.
In the summer, when they were out to pasture, dairy cows produced three or even four times as much milk. The milk was put into containers commonly called milk cans. To keep the milk fresh, these cans were placed in the spring or the river nearest to the barn. At 9, 9.30 or 10 a.m., depending on the transporter's route, the cans were picked up on tripods along the road.
The truth be known, freshness left something to be desired. Processing plants were drowning in milk in the summer, but come winter, farmers were having a more difficult time; in order to produce the milk, they had to buy meal, ingredients, inputs. It was not really worthwhile to produce milk in the winter. So they produced the maximum in the summer and stopped producing in the winter.
That is what was happening on our farms during the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1970, 1971 and 1972, milk producers got together with government officials and set up standards, agreements. They said that there is no use producing too much milk if we are not able to use it and if we cannot sell it outside the country.
They came up with supply management, that some people are decrying so strongly here in the House. Supply management requires a farmer to now produce 12 months a year, on a monthly basis. Our dairy farmer cannot keep the cream and give the whey to others. He has to produce milk in summer, fall, winter and spring. Therefore he must manage his herd in such a way that cows will calve all year long. He can non longer take advantage of geographical or climatic factors.
In that regard, I would ask my Reform colleague to explain the second point that his colleague and friend so brilliantly explained yesterday in this House. The agriculture critic and member for Vegreville outlined the four points his party's dairy policy. I would like to have the second point explained further this afternoon.
I quote: "Second, Reformers acknowledge that the agriculture industry, including supply managed sectors, is moving toward a more competitive market driven system". Where can there be any competition if a farmer is told that he has to produce 1,000 litres of milk for the local dairy, while one of his neighbours has to produce 1,100 litres, and the other has to produce 900?
Where can there be competition when, for milk of the same quality, one farmer is paid 47 cents a litre and another 46 cents, because he is a member of the Liberal Party, the Reform Party or the Bloc Quebecois? How can producers compete with one another under such circumstances, if they have to produce milk
of the same quality? I would like my Reform colleague to explain his view on competition.