House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

March 8th, 2005 / 11:10 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time this evening with my colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I want to thank my colleague, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, for allowing us to have this debate and for bringing this motion forward.

I also want to recognize the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food for taking the time to be here and to listen to all the comments that have been made. We hope that he will take that back to his office and make some good out of it.

I would also like to acknowledge that there has been a lot of talk back and forth about the U.S. I think it is important that both sides of the House, as has already been mentioned, thank President Bush, Secretary of Agriculture Johanns and past Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman for their goodwill and their hard work in wanting to ensure that the border stays open and that we do have a true North American market.

This side of the House definitely realizes that the situation that we are in today, with the border not opening up on Monday as we expected, is the result of a special interest group. The R-CALF ranchers are definitely a group that has profited by having the border closed. They have seen record cattle prices because of the fearmongering that they have been able to accomplish.

If we take that special interest group and combine that with a judge who is sympathetic to their needs, we have these injunctions. The first injunction was granted back in 2003. There is now this injunction granted just last week. Unfortunately, there may be further injunctions coming forward because R-CALF supposedly may be bringing forward more lawsuits before that judge.

There has also been a lot of rhetoric surrounding the relationship between Canada and the United States. The one thing that we cannot ignore is that the vote in the senate last week to ensure that the rule never becomes law is a reflection of the relationship between the Canadian government and U.S. politicians. If that vote had been held two weeks ago, we can be assured that it would have carried. We would have seen the rule pass the senate and not be defeated.

The one thing that we have to learn from this whole process is that the opening of the border is unpredictable. We cannot bank on the border opening on a certain date. One of the problems that we have had in the past is that we have always given the industry these false promises that the border was going to open. We should have been planning two years ago that the border might never open. We have to develop a made in Canada solution.

There has also been a lot of talk about the current programs that we have and the moneys that have supposedly gone out to the industry. I want to do a quick recap on that.

In all the programs that have been announced in 2004, the bison, elk, sheep, goat, and other ruminant species have been shut out of any federal dollars. I continue to hear from those producers and from that industry that they need the support as well.

Those industries were dependent upon the U.S. market and they have to go through this adaptation. They need the support of the department and this government to ensure that they can stay on their farms.

There has been a lot of talk about the CAIS program. We talk about it all the time in the agriculture committee. We dealt with it again today. We are still dealing with the delivery of the CAIS program from 2003. We are only talking about 40,000 clients or thereabouts being paid so far out of a total of 138,000. That is not acceptable. People are still waiting for money from 2003. Here we are in 2005.

The deposit in the CAIS program has been bantered about as well. We know that this deposit provides absolutely no benefit to the producer. It is like me going out and buying a tractor and throwing it in a shed never to use it again. It is an investment that does not generate a return to the farm.

We need to ensure that those dollars are available to farmers so that they can do the best they can to enhance their operations, put seed in the ground, pay off some bills, pay off their bank, and make their tax payments.

We have also been talking about the loan loss reserve program which I raised in question period today. That program has been slow in coming. It was announced in September and we are only at the point now where some lenders can use it. In this situation this is unacceptable.

We have not heard any discussion about the farm improvement loan program prior to the budget and it shocked a lot of us to learn that the program was cancelled. One of the reasons for removing the program was that it was not being used very much. As a result of the crisis on the farm and the lack of new loans being handed out in the agriculture industry, there was no need to use the program if no applications were being accepted at banks or credit unions.

It was short-sighted on our part not to maintain that program, especially during this time of crisis and especially when so many young farmers are struggling with huge debt loads. They sometimes needed the bit of extra leverage that was available through the farm improvement loan program.

We must look at reality and the reality is that we cannot wait for the border to open. This agriculture crisis, not just the BSE crisis but the overall crisis in agriculture, is having a tremendous ripple affect. It is affecting all rural communities. It is affecting the health of farm families. We must address the shortcomings right away.

As a result of this being such a huge farm crisis we need to put aside our political differences and work together. As my colleague from Medicine Hat stated earlier, we are more than happy to put aside our political differences and work together to resolve this problem and to make this minority government work so we can address this issue and ensure that we come to some conclusion and lay down a road map that we could use for the upcoming years.

How do we go about structuring some of this support? Producers and farmers across Canada take the greatest pride in the job they do. They do not like looking for handouts. They would rather ensure that the industry works, that the markets provide them with a return for their product, and that they be successful in that manner.

One of the ways we could do that would be to expand our slaughter capacity. There are regional shortfalls. Manitoba, the Maritimes and B.C. do not have enough packing capacity and depend upon other regions to take their animals. We must encourage that as quickly as possible and ensure those investments happen.

We must diversify the marketplace. We must pursue rigorously opening up other markets outside of the United States, whether that be in Europe, Asia, Pacific Rim countries, or Latin America. We must rigorously go out and seek those markets. If the U.S. will not open its border totally to us, then let us present our science to all those other markets in a more effective manner so that we can get two way trade happening with those countries as well.

We have a huge number of cull animals on our hands. The herd size in the beef sector must be reduced, as well as the herd size in the bison industry, the elk industry and the sheep industry. We must look at getting older animals out of the system and expediting that. A lot of farmers are sitting around holding on to those animals. We must get them out so they are not adding to our problems by continuing to produce more offspring.

There is a contingency fund in the budget and we are requesting that this money be used to deal with this crisis. Money will have to flow quickly and go directly to the primary producers. It must be delivered outside of the CAIS program and with the least amount of administrative cost and hassle. We must look at including all ruminants as well as the grain sector in everything that we deal with in the future in this crisis.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:20 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member has ever been to the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, the beautiful region that surrounds Merritt. B.C. but it has fabulous ranchland. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest ranches in all of North America exists in that region. I think it could be said, like the words of the song, seldom is heard a discouraging word, in the past, as far as the cattle industry, tough Brazilian producers.

Now the CAIS program is obviously flawed and there should be no problem in admitting that a program is flawed. It is flawed in design, overweighted by bureaucracy and it is misdirected.

In the member's deliberations, has he found that the minister has been open to design changes to the program so that it can deliver in the time of crisis? The great irony is that in a time of crisis these producers are being left without help. Has he found that the minister and the ministry has been open to suggestions on changing and adapting the plan so that producers who are suddenly in the time of crisis can indeed be helped?

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:20 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague that I have actually been touring the ranches at Quilchena, Nicola and Douglas Lake and have really enjoyed the time that I had in the valley and seeing how those operations function, which is quite a bit different from the way we do business on the farm in Manitoba.

We know for a fact that when we talked about the CAIS program in debate as a supply day motion the government voted against us. However I was encouraged that the minister was able to convince the Minister of Finance to include the removal of the CAIS deposit program in the budget. Unfortunately, some debate is still going on at the federal-provincial meetings on whether those deposits should be removed and what would replace them.

I would urge the minister not to even entertain the issue of deposits. Nothing in the program provides any benefit to the producers. It does not keep the program in the green box for WTO. What we need to do right now is do what is best for the farmer and we have to look at that for the long term.

The situation we have right now is not working for the cattle industry. The delivery of disaster funds through the CAIS program does not get the money into the producers' hands fast enough and I think the CAIS administration and the minister realize that. That is why we have to start looking at delivery outside of that.

Some of the moneys that we handed out at the very beginning of the crisis back in 2003 flowed quickly. We need to revisit that and maybe make the TIS program, which was used back then, the standard for delivering compensation in a situation like this. I am a cattle producer but I hear a lot from the bison producers, the elk producers and the sheep growers in my area and I want to make sure their issues are dealt with on an equivalent basis to those of us in the cattle industry.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:25 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario


Andy Mitchell LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, before I ask the member a couple of questions, I want to point out some figures.

As of last week, CAIS has paid out $1.1 billion to producers so far. In terms of the conversation here, between the Alberta program and the national program, CAIS was able to quickly provide liquidity in the order of some $265 million to the cattle producers. I think both those figures speak to getting money out to producers.

However I have two very specific questions for the hon. member.

First, as he is aware, as he is very knowledgeable about the industry, we have put in place, along with the provinces, both feeder and fed cattle set aside programs. I would be interested to know the member's view as to whether they have worked in the past and the value of continuing them into the future.

The second question concerns the issue that he mentioned about cull animals and the age of the herd. I wonder if he would talk about what he would feel in terms of some of those specific solutions, particularly how any of those solutions may relate to the slaughter capacity that may be available to deal with handling that particular part of the problem.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:25 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, although money has flowed to producers, I think we all can agree that the loss to the industry is over $7 billion. The amount of money that has been derived from government sources by no means even compensates a part of the loss. Most guys are so far in the red that they barely can breathe now. Yes, we gave them some money but they have now used up all their liquidity, whether it was in cash assets or more leverage. Essentially, they have given away their entire net worth and asset base and are on the edge.

Some producers in my riding are currently going through foreclosure, and I know it is happening right across the country. I do not want to see any more losses like that. We need to be working hard to keep families on the farms and ranches and keep them productive.

I was concerned when it was first announced that there would be a lot of people, especially in the feeder program, who would use the set aside program specifically in retaining females. In my area that is predominantly what has happened. That will just multiply the problem we have down the road. It just means more heifers will be held back and put into the herd for breeding, thus increasing overall production when we have these difficulties.

In the cull cow program, I know there are shortfalls in capacity. We may have to look at some other solutions in dealing with these mature animals. I had some conversations today with some Canadian Meat Council members and currently there is room in some of the plants to handle some of these mature animals. Some of the mature cow plants are not running at full bore because they just do not see them being flushed out of the market for the price they are paying. However if there were some incentive from government to get these animals moving through the system, we could fill those plants back up to capacity and be able to expedite the cull.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:30 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for granting this emergency debate on what is definitely an emergency situation in my riding of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound and across Canada. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Battlefords--Lloydminster for initiating the motion on this debate.

With due respect to my colleagues across the floor, I would like to express my thanks to the minister and the deputy minister for sticking around until the wee hours of the morning, so to speak.

I welcome this opportunity to share the thoughts and concerns that have been raised by my constituents. I have been hearing horror stories galore. As I have said before, my riding is a very agricultural riding. Whether it is beef, sheep, elk, bison or anything else, they are all being affected by the BSE crisis.

I have experienced something I never want to see again and that is people I know declaring bankruptcy. They are neighbours and friends, and they are fighting as hard as they can to make a living but they are getting hammered every time they turn around.

The latest nail in their coffin came just last week when a federal judge in some ranching community in Montana took it upon himself to decide that if the border were to reopen to Canadian cattle, “The threats are great. Delay is prudent and largely harmless”. We all know our beef is safe here. It is known around the world. This is politics at work again.

I would like Mr. Justice Richard Cebull to know exactly how harmful this delay is and will continue to be to Canadian cattle producers. It is the obligation of the government to deliver that message.

Producers across the country are losing millions of dollars and the government is doing little or nothing to help. The CAIS program has long been identified as flawed and deficient. There is $640 million right now sitting in an account somewhere. Producers who cannot put food on their tables borrowed that money. They put it up front and they need it back, and they need it back now.

The Liberals voted against our motion to drop the CAIS cash deposit and now they say they want it gone. As the member for Selkirk--Interlake pointed out, they have agreed to put it in the budget, and I do thank the minister for that, but it is still a long way from being gone.

Today we heard there will be a national CAIS committee to review appeals. With all due respect, we do not need another committee and we do not need any more consultations. Farmers have said loud and clear that the program does not work. The Liberals also say that they will develop alternatives to the program but no one seems to have a clue where to start with it. It is a comedy of errors that no one finds funny.

The Liberals have never been able to address the issue of older cows, but those are the animals that would not even be included even if the border were reopened. In light of this court injunction that we just heard about, producers, in my riding at least, are leaning more toward a cull program than ever before. The government must address this issue now.

More and more producers are telling me that they just want the $200, the cash that they can get out of it and they will cut their losses and ship the cows to market. The feeling that seems to be out there is that we can get rid of some of these and maybe get the market back to where it is going.

It is also imperative now, more than ever before, that the government provide tax incentives to support investment in Canadian slaughter capacity. We note that its current efforts in these areas have been grossly inadequate and ineffective thus far.

It is clear that Canada has to help itself and that we need a made in Canada solution. The 2005 budget did very little to address this. There are no tax deferrals and the loan loss reserve program got an additional $17 million, but according to the Canadian bankers who we just talked to at the agriculture committee last week, they say there is no loan loss reserve program because they cannot agree with the government on how it can and should work.

Both the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the USDA recently submitted reports indicating that Canadian beef was safe and that our feed supply was governed by sound science.

After standing with his hands in his pockets for over 21 months while the border stayed closed, the Prime Minister, in going back to an old line of a Kenny Rogers' song “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille”, finally picked a fine time, opened his mouth and give the U.S. a reason to react to the border just one week before it was scheduled to open.

I am not naive enough to think that is the total reason. As some of the speakers tonight have said, there is no doubt in my mind that this influenced the senators on how they voted last week. Our relations with the Americans is at an all time low and members of the government continually say things, and I would like to think they are not with full intent, that upset our neighbours. The timing could not have been worse.

I know some gains have been made as far as the beef issue, but we have a long way to go. If it were milk, it would be barely enough to cover the bottom of a pail. We need to work together as politicians and producers, as the Deputy Prime Minister said earlier, to do what is necessary, to do it right and to do it yesterday.

I believe the minister's heart is in the right place, but ministry staff told us today at the agriculture committee that the deposit requirement was not placing any hardship on farmers. With that kind of attitude, no wonder no improvements to the CAIS program have been carried out thus far.

The message the minister could take back to his staff is that there are hardships out there. The CAIS program is not working. Let us get a good attitude and frame of mind so they can go to work and make the necessary improvements.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:35 p.m.

Malpeque P.E.I.


Wayne Easter LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (Rural Development)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has made a lot of positive comments in terms of the need to work together. However, members of his party seem to go on at great lengths claiming that we voted against doing away with the CAIS deposit on this side of the House. We voted against the motion that was brought forward by the opposition party. It did not seem to realize the reality that this was a federal-provincial agreement and under our Constitution, we did not have the authority to drop the CAIS deposit ourselves.

It is something that we talked about within the government. The Minister of Finance came forward with the budget. The minister has been talking to the provinces to try to move in that direction. That is the reality. It was not voting against producers. In my hearings with producers, they have said we should drop the CAIS deposit. The minister has taken the initiative. The Minister of Finance has put it in his budget, and it has been brought forward. However, it has to be done in a negotiated way with a federal-provincial agreement. I just wish members opposite would recognize that because we do want to move forward on it in a coordinated way with the provinces.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:35 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there was a question in the member's comments, but he refers to a reality. Try to tell that to the producers in my riding and across the country. The Liberals voted against the motion to get rid of it. It is as simple as that.

Therefore, I go back to the CAIS program. Will the minister go back to his staff and instruct the changes, and in what form and in what timing? We have three weeks to the deadline. We have to make some progress on the issue. I would like a little more encouragement than I heard at the agricultural committee today that we will work toward the right thing and get this resolved.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:40 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the observations of my colleague. We are all familiar with the phrase, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, but I think my hon. colleagues across the floor are more fixed on “it's broke, let's not try and fix it”. They will not respond to some of the design requests to make changes.

Around the failed CAIS program, if people were willing to be innovative, there are still things that could be done to help farmers and producers in crisis such as tax relief or tax deferrals. Those who want to bring out innovative new ways of marketing are encumbered at every turn by excessive regulatory regime and all kinds of roadblocks and obstacles.

In his workings with the minister or department officials, has the member found that they are open? If they are not willing to alter the design of the CAIS program, are they willing to look around the CAIS program and clear the way so innovative, hard-working, entrepreneurial producers can make some headway without getting bogged down with government bureaucracy, taxation and regulation?

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:40 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, the thing that really shocks me is the CAIS program, which we have talked about to no end, is not working. The CAIS program never was a disaster program. We have a disaster like the tsunami. The CAIS program was designed for an ongoing insurance program, for lack of another term.

Going back to the tsunami, like true Canadians, we came to the aid of the tsunami victims, and that is good. I have absolutely no problem with that. Where I do have a problem is when we have a disaster within our own nation that can lead to a lack of food to feed the population, we do not treat it for what it is, a true disaster.

Farmers are very proud people. They are not people who like to live out of the mailbox or have their hand out, but they have been made to live that way.

Of the richer nations in the world, Canada spends one of the lowest percentages of its disposable income on food. It is nice to know our producers can produce cheap food, but it is away beyond that. They are not getting paid for what it is worth. Then add a disaster on top of that and it compounds the matter.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:40 p.m.


Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin the substance of my remarks, I would like to commend those who spoke this evening from the other side and from our side. In particular, I would like to mention the efforts of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and his parliamentary secretary, who have worked tirelessly, as have their predecessors, on this file since the first case of BSE was discovered. There is no question that all Canadians and parliamentarians want to see this file successfully closed with the opening of the border to live Canadian cattle.

Unfortunately, it remains closed in spite of the best efforts of the U.S. administration, including commitments by U.S. President Bush and matched commitments on the Canadian side to see the border open. Insistent and consistent efforts were made to ensure that a science based solution to the problem was found.

As has been aptly explained by my colleagues, our American friends are seeking a reopening of the border with Japan based on sound science. We ask nothing more and nothing less for our own Canadian producers.

I wish to echo the comments of Canadian producers and others. Canadian producers, be they beef producers or producers of any other commodity are among the best farmers in the world. They manage their farms within one of the safest food systems in the world, and we should be very proud of them. The fact that the government has responded with vigour and with substantial financial assistance should not go unnoticed, which it seems sometimes it has by opposition parties.

The problem with the U.S on softwood lumber is a major problem for my constituents in my northern Ontario riding, as is the problem with beef for beef farmers in northern Ontario. This may be a surprise to my colleagues across the way. My northern Ontario riding in central Algoma, the North Shore area, the Manitoulin Island area and the Highway 11 area from Smooth Rock Falls to Hearst, has a large number of cattle farmers who, like farmers out west, have been very seriously hurt by the closure of the border.

I prefer not to say too much about the Montana district court decision, but I hope a solution can be found for the file on the case of the trade in beef. As we search for solutions in softwood lumber and other commodities, we ask our American neighbours to manage trade based on law, on science and on best practices, not based on regional parochialism.

I am very pleased to join my colleagues tonight to participate in this important debate. The issue of BSE and the continued closure of the U.S. border to Canadian livestock is an issue that is very dear to the hearts of many Canadians, not just those working in the livestock industry.

The government and opposition parties in the House have all taken the opportunity at one time or another in the last two years to focus attention on this important matter, and tonight's debate is another welcome opportunity to address the issue.

It is not the first special emergency debate on this. I recall participating before. I recall the minister staying all evening, not just once, but several times in the past to ensure that the message got out, as it should. The government is working hard on the file and is doing its best.

The livestock industry is part of our proud history as a nation. Looking back, it is an industry that played an important role in the settling of the Canadian prairies more than a century ago. At the same time, the livestock industry is also an intrinsic part of our present and of our future.

As everyone knows, Canadian beef is renowned worldwide for its quality. It is synonymous with top quality.

This industry has been a major component of Canada's foreign trade. In fact, Canada exported more than $4 billion in beef and cattle products in 2002, which makes it the third largest beef exporter in the world. It may be a surprise to a lot of Canadians that Canada is the third largest beef producer in the world. We hear so much about beef from Argentina and other South American countries, as well as Mexican and U.S. beef, but considering the population of Canada is certainly not the third largest in the world, being the third largest beef producer is significant and speaks to the importance of the industry to Canada's economy as a whole.

In fact, as a country Canada actually generated a trade surplus in beef products of $3.2 billion, nearly 6% of its total trade surplus. I believe that was last year. Clearly this is an extremely important industry not just for livestock producers but for all Canadians. It is an industry that has developed an international reputation for excellence.

In light of the reaction of other countries to the discovery of a case of BSE in May 2003, the industry is paying a very high price for events totally beyond its control.

Last September the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food worked in close consultation and collaboration with the provinces, territories and the industry and announced a $488 million package to reposition Canada's beef and cattle industry. Restoring Canada's position as a global leader in premium beef exports is a key component of the industry strategy. The government committed $37.1 million in new money as part of a repositioning strategy to intensify our activities dealing with international market access issues related to BSE.

I would like to underline the minister's efforts in not only designing and promoting the repositioning strategy, but it is a strategy that makes a lot of sense regardless of one's perspective. The slaughter capacity, which used to be much higher, over the years for a number of reasons was reduced and it is necessary that it be re-established. We should hit a 30% increase by the end of the year and hopefully much more than that over the next few years. We hope we never experience a closure again once the border is reopened and that we are never so dependent on trade in live cattle with the U.S. again.

With the 2005 budget the Government of Canada announced that an additional $17.1 million will be available within the $488 million strategy to reposition Canada's livestock industry to further increase domestic slaughter capacity through the loan loss reserve program. I believe the minister announced that Farm Credit Canada would be actively engaging itself in that program.

We have taken vigorous action. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has taken part in trade missions in different parts of the world in an effort to get borders reopened to Canadian cattle.

That is not all. Additional budget initiatives will be of assistance to cattle producers. For example, $104 million over the next four years will go to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act to expand the cash advance program and to broaden access to include livestock producers. Certainly reopening the U.S. border to Canadian livestock and beef products from animals of any age has been a priority. We intensified our efforts in other parts of the world, particularly Asia. We have seen positive results, for example, in China and Hong Kong.

Again the efforts of the government and the minister to engage existing foreign markets and potential new foreign markets and discussions on diversifying our trade in beef are laudable. They have already gained results. The dividends for those efforts are yet to come. Our efforts have been paying off as more countries come to recognize the efficacy of our science and to reopen their markets to Canadian meat products.

In addition, we have earmarked $80 million over two years to resolve the issue of removing specific risk factors from animal feed.

The United States Department of Agriculture has acknowledged this fact. The President of the United States has acknowledged the fact that Canadian science is good science. We must not lose sight of the fact that Canadian producers and our food safety system is virtually second to none in the world. Unfortunately, science is not the only factor at play in the international decision making process.

Certainly Canadians know our beef is safe. The Canadian food safety and inspection system in place was sufficiently robust that the BSE infected animal was detected and removed before it reached the human food chain.

In an effort to support our livestock producers, beef consumption in Canada rose by 5% when BSE was discovered in 2003.

Canadians have clearly shown their support for our livestock producers. Governments in Canada have also clearly shown their support for our cattle producers.

We can all be sure that these efforts will continue. We must and will continue to support our producers as we move forward to resume trade, strengthen our domestic capacity and ensure that the industry is sustainable for the future.

We must support our producers, and we will continue to do so as we move forward to resume trade, strengthen our domestic capacity and ensure the future sustainability of the industry.

I would like to commend the beef producers again in my riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing. I have met with many of them since this issue arose back in 2003. They are facing tremendous challenges. The dairy farmers are facing the tremendous challenge of what to do with the cull cows.

I would like to extend to them my fondest hope, which I am sure joins their hope that this issue with our U.S. neighbours will be resolved soon and in a way that will see the full recovery of the industry over as short a term as possible. At the same time, I am sure I share with them the desire that our capacity to process and slaughter our own cattle will be expanded and that that expansion will be achieved over as short a time horizon as is possible.

I will now give up my place on the floor and allow someone else a few minutes before the evening is over. I would again commend all members for their efforts here tonight and other times in showing their support for not only the cattle producers, but for all farmers right across this great country of ours.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:55 p.m.


Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is closing in on midnight and I think it would be proper to thank everyone for staying this late this evening, the minister, the parliamentary secretary, colleagues across the House, and of course all the hard workers in the House, including the pages. It is worth mentioning that there are even some people in the gallery. I do not think people realize how seriously we are taking this issue. It is nice to have them here this evening.

I want to address one thing. The previous speaker lauded the government on what it has done. There has been an announcement that the farm improvement loan program is being taken away. This will negatively impact Saskatchewan.

I mentioned earlier that in Saskatchewan the situation is particularly cruel. We have gone through everything from drought, to grasshoppers, to frost, and the trade impact. In Saskatchewan this was particularly bad. When I heard about the farm improvement loan program cancellation, I also understand that it will really impact us negatively. I would appreciate hearing the member's comments on the farm improvement loan program cancellation.

On our relationships with the U.S., I do thank our own side here which has done a lot, including our leader who did meet with President Bush. I am sure things did improve considerably after that meeting.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate

11:55 p.m.


Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, in response to the member's second point, she referred to the Canada-U.S. relationship. My colleague a few seats behind also talked about the same point.

I certainly am not one prepared to accept any linkage between any decision on ballistic missile defence. To be perfectly honest, I am sure the federal district judge in Montana would hardly be aware of that debate. The confluence of events is extremely unfortunate, but I believe that there is absolutely no linkage whatsoever. I think it would be more of an insult to our U.S. neighbours to even suggest that there was any kind of connection whatsoever.

At all times there will be issues of concern between our two nations. We are powerful allies and powerful trading partners, but we also have very strong issues on each side of the border. I do not think that the Canada-U.S. relationship will suffer any more than it has at any other time during the ongoing debates we have over one issue or another.

As to the farm improvement loans program, I am aware of the policy. I have to defer to the hon. member for her knowledge of her own province of Saskatchewan. It is not a program that I have a lot of personal experience with. I do know that it was part of the expenditure review program outcomes which netted the federal government in the order of $12 billion in funds which could be allocated to other Canadian priorities such as health care. I will leave it to her to pursue her interest in that subject.

Canadian Livestock IndustryEmergency Debate


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being midnight, I declare the motion carried.

This House stands adjourned until later today, this Wednesday, at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 12:00 a.m.)