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Home / India News / No provision to end APMCs, says Tomar

No provision to end APMCs, says Tomar

The minister also added that while older laws had no provision to guarantee when payment would be made to farmers , the new laws assure that payments will be made within three days at the most.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2020, 00:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The minister also added that while older laws had no provision to guarantee when payment would be made to farmers , the new laws  assure that payments will be made within three days at the most.
The minister also added that while older laws had no provision to guarantee when payment would be made to farmers , the new laws assure that payments will be made within three days at the most.(ANI)

Union agriculture minister NS Tomar on Thursday said two new farm bills passed in Parliament do not have provisions to end markets controlled by the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) as is feared by farmer groups.

The minister also added that while older laws had no provision to guarantee when payment would be made to farmers , the new laws assure that payments will be made within three days at the most.

The bills he said will promote inter-state trade and farmers will receive more options to sell at the right price:

“The new bills allow a farmer to sell his produce outside APMCs, giving him a widen range of buyers,” he said addressing the media.

The two bills passed, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, aim to free agrimarkets, allow contract farming agreements, and create farm-to-fork supply chains. They do this, partky, by sidestepping APMCs, which have become cartelised over time. Older laws required farmers to sell to licensed middlemen in notified markets, and usually in the same area where they (the farmers) resided. The new laws open up APMCs to competition. One of them also allows farmers to strike agreements with agri-business firms or exporters for prospective sale of farming produce.

Some farm-groups and the opposition parties believe that the new laws will limit APMC markets to their physical boundaries while allowing corporate buyers to land up at farmgates. They are also worried that because the laws do not guarantee the minimum price of acquisition will be the government mandated minimum support price or MSP, most farmers will end up selling for lower (government acquisition, at MSP, in markets where the APMC law has been repealed, is low, they point out). Finally, they believe that few farmers will cross states to sell produce or take the online route to do so.

The opposition has severely criticised the government for passing the Bills in Parliament without sending them for further scrutiny to a select panel . The government has for its part asserted that the bills were passed after discussion with the opposition members to and allow farmers more options to get better remuneration for their produce. The Prime Minister has himself defended the bills, and termed them a “protective shield” around farmers.

The government insists that concerns that the legislation will end the MSP and about contract farming are misplaced. The opposition wants the concept of MSP to be written into the law.

The minister said fixing MSP is an administrative decision and will continue.He said the government has already declared MSP of rabi crops. Earlier this week, the government raised MSP for several winter-grown or rabi crops , a move clearly aimed at quelling criticism that the new farm laws would kill the MSP regime.

Both farmer groups in Punjab and the BJP’s own ally the SAD have been opposed to the bills; and want the government to clarify if the private companies will be asked to buy at MSP as well.

“In Punjab, there’s 8.5% tax in the mandis on several items. Now, because of these bills, farmers will be able to sell their produce even outside of the mandi, even outside of the state at any price they choose,” Tomar said, without commenting on the absence of a floor price.

Tomar also said people have misconceptions about contract farming. “We talk about the agreement of crop through the new agricultural bill. Our bill is not for contracting the field. The farmer is the owner of the farm and of the produce. But now the new bill will allow the farmer to guarantee the value of the crop before sowing.”

Lashing out at the Congress, the minister said changes in the APMC law, the interstate trade of agricultural produce were all part of its 2019 manifesto.

Tomar also defended the changes to the essential commodities law, the third farm reform bill cleared in the just-concluded monsoon session of parliament. the new law removes most food items from the purview of the law, which is mainly used by the Centre to control inflation.

He said at the High Power Committee meeting of the Chief Ministers, Congress leader and then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath said that the essential commodities act had achieved its objective,and should be abolished immediately.

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