In a letter to farmers, Narendra Singh Tomar reiterates assurance on MSP
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday wrote an impassioned letter to farmers protesting against the three farm reform laws, reiterating his commitment to resolve farmers’ issues and again offering a written assurance that the system of state-set minimum support prices (MSPs) for farm commodities will remain place.
In the eight-page letter, Tomar said farmers in most parts of the country were happy with the reforms and that confusion had been created by some political forces as part of a conspiracy to derail the laws enacted in September, appealing to the protestors to call off the agitation.
“I belong to a farmer’s family and since childhood, I have experienced the tough life of farmers. It is very satisfactory that after implementation of the laws, MSP procurement has set a new record this time,” Tomar said.
Tomar didn’t name anyone, but wrote: “A lie is being spread in the name of MSP and Mandis. The fact is that nothing is going to change.”
Farmers, mainly from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have massed at border entry points to Delhi since November 26 in a massive protest was set off by three laws pushed through 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.
Farmers say the new rules favour big corporations to whom they will lose business and gradually end the system of state-set minimum prices. They are also concerned that the government-controlled mandis. or agricultural markets, may be dismantled. Protesters decided to call off further negotiations on December 8, after a meeting with home minister Amit Shah, claiming a stalemate.
The agriculture minister wrote that MSPs and the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees that run the mandis will remain in place and the government was ready to offer a written assurance to that effect
Tomar alleged that the Congress did not act on recommendations made by a commission headed by agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan t for eight years. “These days, they are working again to create tension. They even questioned our Army and their supreme sacrifice in Leh-Ladakh,” the minister wrote, appealing to the farmers to end the agitation.
The farmers’ group spearheading the protest insisted that the laws be withdrawn,
“The government (is) repeatedly dishing out old rejected logic. Farmers are ready for talks, but the three Farm Acts and the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 have to be withdrawn,” said Avik Saha of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee.
The draft bill has a provision for direct benefit transfer (DBT) of subsidy provided to consumers, particularly to the agriculture and domestic sectors. Opposition leaders say this will work against the interest of farmers and poor domestic consumers, and insisted that the mode of payment should be left to state governments to decide. The bill also aims to ensure a mandatory minimum purchase of power from renewable sources of energy and enforce stringent penal measures for non-compliance with the provisions.