Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government will consider the demands of the farmers for level playing field between the APMCs and private markets or trade area outside the APMCs and other issues in the farm laws.
He was interacting with reporters after fourth round of talks between the Central government and representatives of farmers’ organisations at Vigyan Bhawan here on Thursday.
He said that the government is committed to protect the APMCs and consider the issues such as market fee, registration of traders so there should be similarity in the APMCs and trade areas outside the APMCs.
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) laws, 2020 allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMCs and state governments are prohibited from levying any market fee or cess outside APMCs. This is the reason, farmers of Punjab are demanding to repeal this law as they fear that APMCs will collapse due to new farm act.
He also assured the farmer leaders that the minimum support price (MSP) will remain and therefore the farmers should not fear that it will go away.
Minister of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Railways and Commerce Piyush Goel and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash and senior officials from the Agriculture Ministry and the Ministry of Food Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution were also present in the meeting joined by 40 representatives of farmers unions across the country.
At the outset of the meeting, Tomar reiterated the government’s commitment towards the welfare of the farmers. He requested the representatives of the farmers’ organisations to flag the issues which they felt were contentious. The representatives of the farmers’ unions raised the question of the constitutional validity of the three laws to which detailed explanation about the constitutional provisions under which the Central government legislated these laws was given to them.
The farmers also said that there is a need for proper registration for trade outside the APMCs and issue of protecting the land of farmers in the Contract Farming Act was also raised.
The representatives of farmers’ organisations also said that the MSP system should be made legal. Regarding dispute resolution system in the new Farms Acts, they asked for an alternate dispute resolution system.
The Secretary Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Sanjay Agarwal gave a detailed description of the Farms Acts and the measures taken by the Ministry of Agriculture for the welfare of farmers and those measures taken to benefit agriculture during the lockdown period to keep the supply chains active.