As protests by farmers grow, BJD to form panel to study new farm laws
The Biju Janata Dal surprised many when it opposed the two farm bills -- the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Felicitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 -- in the Rajya Sabha.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said Monday that the Biju Janata Dal would form a committee of MLAs, MPs and leading farmer leaders to study the provisions of the new farm laws.
Addressing party MLAs, Patnaik said apart from studying the provisions of the Bill, his party will be fighting for implementation of MS Swaminathan committee recommendation on Minimum Support Price of foodgrains.
“The party will form a Committee of MLAs, MPs and leading farmer’s leaders to study the provisions. I would like to assure the farmers that their welfare will be paramount in any of our interventions,” Patnaik said in his speech via video conference.
The Bills have now been notified after the President gave his assent.
The National Commission on Farmers, chaired by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan between December 2004 and October 2006 had suggested the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to fix MSP at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production.
Though it has supported many Bills including the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill last year, Biju Janata Dal surprised many when it opposed the two farm bills -- the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Felicitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 -- in the Upper House of Parliament.
The party demanded that the Bills be sent to Select committee as the concerns of the small and marginal farmers on MSP have not been addressed properly. BJD MP Amar Patnaik said at a time when the small and marginal farmers are not getting MSP, the twin Bills seems to be a move towards dilution of the MSP.
Incidentally, the Naveen Patnaik government is bringing in two Bills in the monsoon session of theh assembly that are replica of the two Farm Bills brought in by the Centre barring minor differences.
The Odisha Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 aims at registration of farmers with contract farming companies for improving production and productivity by way of land, soil management, seeds, saplings, fingerlings, inputs, feed and fodder, technology and other such services. The Bill would cover sale and purchase of 50 varieties of plant produce and 5 of animal produce.
BJD leaders said the party’s latest move on the Farm Bills came as nationwide protests seem to be growing against the new legislations.
“The farmers are our biggest support base and the 2019 election proved that majority of them stood by us. It would electrorally detrimental to support the Bill that has nothing concrete on MSP,” said a BJD leader.