Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the member for Lethbridge for splitting his precious time with me.
My riding is Dauphin—Swan River and it certainly is a rural riding. Farming is the backbone of the riding. There is no doubt that the health of all the communities in my riding depends on the cash in the pockets of farmers.
There is a real farm crisis whether the government realizes it or not. It is impacting farmers, and certainly farm families, as many of them are going broke and they rely on farming for their livelihood.
I have received a countless number of calls on this issue. At times as a member of parliament I feel very helpless. All I can do is bring the messages to this House and I am very glad to have the opportunity to relate those messages to members of this House today. Hopefully the government will listen to the real people in the ridings.
I would like to put some face to the concerned farmers and farming families and tell the House what they have asked me to do. I will begin by saying that the president of KAP, the Keystone Agricultural Producers Inc., has talked to me about the crisis in farming. This organization represents many farm producers in Manitoba.
Those producers are very concerned. This is not only a crisis in Manitoba, it is a crisis in all of western Canada. In the upcoming months KAP will host meetings throughout the province to listen to farmers.
A lady by the name of Audrey Warkentin from Fork River called me. She is concerned that their family farm is at risk of going under. She is concerned about the prices at this time because they cannot meet cash requirements.
David Hanlin from Miniota in my riding wanted to talk about the low prices of grain and the high prices of chemicals and machinery. The price of grain has bottomed out. He tells me it will eventually put him out of business.
Stan Yaskiw of Birtle, Manitoba, is very concerned about the farm economy as it has been impacting his life and his family.
Bert Stewart of Benito, Manitoba, is concerned about the farming economy and low prices. The cash crunch is impacting on his family farm. He has farmed most of his life.
Don Ray from Russell, Manitoba, called about the low grain prices and his farm income, which is in jeopardy. He told me that he has 1,500 acres and that it requires $250 an acre to maintain equipment and pay for fuel. He has also experienced a crop loss due to flooding, not from a flood like the one in Winnipeg, but from too much rain. Part of my riding received too much rain over the past summer. In his area there were numerous fields which were flooded. There was a 50% loss due to excessive moisture. He wants to know how the government can help him survive as a farmer.
Bert Stewart from Benito has the same concerns. In fact, 55 cents per bushel of barley puts him at great risk. He told me that 333 bottles of beer are produced from one bushel of barley. He would like to see some of those returns.
Cam Mateika from Swan River is paying more for freight now and he is getting less money for his crops. He cannot survive. He says that many farmers are talking the same way. There certainly is a crisis out there.
David Wilson from Rapid City has a problem surviving. He says that GRIP has been a total disaster as far as he is concerned. Farmers were counting on it. He has also heard many horror stories about NISA.
Barry Durston, another constituent of mine, is concerned about commodity prices, freight rates and NISA. He is not happy with the whole business of NISA and how it has been dealt with.
There is a crisis out there. People are pleading for help. These are real people. The government needs to be accountable to these people. We help people in crisis situations like the ice storm and floods. This is a time when the government needs to help people who farm for a living because their livelihood is at stake.