A farmer holds a banner during a protest against the new farm laws, at Singhu (Delhi-Haryana border) near New Delhi on Wednesday.(Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
A farmer holds a banner during a protest against the new farm laws, at Singhu (Delhi-Haryana border) near New Delhi on Wednesday.(Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)

Farm unions urge Centre to stop ‘parallel negotiations’

A massive farmers’ rebellion was set off by the three laws pushed by the government in September that allow agribusinesses to trade with minimal regulation, permit traders to stockpile large quantities of food commodities for economies of scale and lay down new contract farming rules.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON DEC 17, 2020 03:41 AM IST

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of farm unions leading the protests against three agricultural laws, has asked the government not to hold parallel negotiations with farmers and stop vilifying farmers as anti-national elements.

In a letter to agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the group said: “Please don’t hold parallel negotiations. We have already said that your proposals for amendments are not acceptable to us.”

The letter also asked the government not to spread misleading information.

“The government is open to talking to all kinds of farmers, including those on protest. Discussion and dialogue is the only way for a solution,” farm minister Tomar had said on Tuesday after meeting a group of farmers.

The government has so far met four delegations of farmers who say they support the farm laws.

“Yesterday, the PM made a wrong claim that milk production has been promoted by non-government private sector, while it is the government- aided cooperative sector which has helped milk farmers, and later the entry of the private sector stressed the milk sector,” said Avik Saha, a leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

A massive farmers’ rebellion was set off by the three laws pushed by the government in September that allow agribusinesses to trade with minimal regulation, permit traders to stockpile large quantities of food commodities for economies of scale and lay down new contract farming rules.

“PM {Narendra} Modi’s document Putting Farmers First says that the laws “open up avenues for agribusiness” and it is the corporates and MNCs who these laws and government is helping, not the farmers,” the letter said.

Farmers say the new rules favour big corporations to whom they will lose business and gradually end the system of state-set minimum prices.

Farmers decided to call off negotiations on December 8, after a meeting with home minister Amit Shah, claiming a stalemate.

The government on December 9 sent a written proposal to amend some provisions of the laws for greater oversight on deregulated markets, sparing farmers from penalties for stubble burning, which causes pollution, and promising to keep providing farmers subsidised power instead of direct cash transfers, but farm unions say they will not call off their protest until the laws are repealed.

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