Opinion

‘New Laws Not Related To MSP’

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar talks about the government’s position on the ongoing famers' agitation and the new farm bills

‘New Laws Not Related To MSP’
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Union agriculture and farmers welfare minister Narendra Singh Tomar spoke to Prashant Srivastava about the government’s position on the ongoing agitation against the farm bills. Excerpts…

Why are farmers not ready to end their stir despite explanations by the government?

The Centre has been taking farmer-friendly decisions from the beginning. The new laws for agricultural reforms have also been introduced for the benefit of farmers. The government has been constantly discussing whatever the farmer organisations have put before it, with an open mind. The meetings have taken place in a very good environment, and positive and meaningful talks have been held. The government wants to know the points they are worried about and what are their suggestions regarding those so that all the issues can be resolved. There is mutual trust between the two sides.

It seems that before bringing the laws, the government did not take farmers into confidence.

When the Swaminathan Committee was set up for agricultural reforms, it had consulted all stakeholders. Later too, the government received suggestions from time to time. Any law that is enacted is done only after seeking opinion of the people concerned. The new laws are also going to bring about a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector, which will benefit the farmers not only in the short term but also in the long term. This will lead to all-round development of farmers and the agriculture sector. Agriculture experts have been writing about these reforms for years. The then UPA government also wanted to implement these reforms, but due to its lack of commitment to farmers, it could not take steps.

The government says it is not doing away with MSP, but farmers are asking for legalising it. Can it be done?

MSP is an administrative decision of the government, about which the Prime Minister and I have made it clear, even in Parliament, that MSP will continue. The government has continuously increased MSP and government procurement on MSP continues as before.

Farmers are afraid that corporates will gradually seize their land.

Some political parties have spread confusion. The situation is different. Provisions for contract farming have been made under the new laws. The objective behind it is to ensure that the farmer is assured of value for his produce. There is a clear provision in the law that only the produce agreement of the farmer will be with the trader. There will be no land deal. The farmer had and will continue to own the land. There is also no provision for any penalty on farmers.

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Can the government accept the demands of farmers on issues like MSP, APMC, and legal disputes?

As for MSP, the government has said that it will continue, while APMC is governed under respective laws of different states. The question of shutting down APMCs by the Central government does not arise, but we have said that APMCs should be more empowered. Whether the SDM resolves disputes or the court, we are ready to resolve this issue through discussion.

From the talks so far, it seems that the government will not withdraw all three laws, while the farmers are adamant about this.

The government’s discussions with farmer organisations are going on. Whatever the solution, it will come out of the talks. Agitations will never solve any issue. It is a matter of satisfaction that farmer organisations are disciplined. The government is also hopeful, there will be a solution.

Is there a fear of rising inflation if a written guarantee for MSP is given?

The new laws are not related to MSP. I have said it many times and also given it in writing. Announcement and procurement of MSP will continue as before.

What do you have to say about the role of the Opposition in the protests?

Some parties are trying to make a political gain out of it, but our peasant brothers are aware and sensible. They will not let their intentions succeed. If the Opposition has to say something, the government will answer. Congress had talked about bringing similar agricultural reforms on its manifesto, but it did not follow it. Now that Modiji has done the reforms, they do not like it.

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