Centre, farmers make some headway; another meeting on Dec 5 to break logjam

Topics farmers' protest | Centre | MSP

The Punjab chief minister and the Congress party have been supporting the farmers' stir. | Photo: PTI
The fourth round of talks between protesting farmers and the Centre on the three agriculture Acts seemed to make some headway, with the government willing to consider some of their objections to the legislation.

Their demands include a having level playing field in taxes between proposed private mandis under the new Acts and the existing agriculture produce marketing committees (APMCs), and traders’ mandatory registration even if they trade outside those.

Sources said a breakthrough in the key demand of the farmers’ union for an assurance on continuing minimum support prices (MSPs) in procurement was also in the works.

In their present form, the agriculture trade Act says that no state or Centre can levy any sort of tax or levy on any trade done outside APMCs (an area which has been designated as trade areas).

In the trade area, any person with just a PAN Card can purchase any sort of agriculture produce directly from farmers.

A provision in the trade Act as well as the law on contract farming could be modified, sources said.

The farmers are opposing the contract farming law because it says all disputes between traders and farmers have to be settled at the level of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) and can’t be referred to a court of law.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash represented the Central government in the deliberations, said that the meeting was held was in a cordial atmosphere and all issues were discussed at length.

 He said the Centre was willing to consider their other two major demands — doing away with the penal provision for stubble burning and also amendments to the draft Electricity Act, which could lead to stopping electricity subsidies for farmers. The farmers’ leaders, meanwhile, decided to consult other stakeholders and come back to the government with an assurance in the next meeting, which is on December 5.

A press conference by the leaders on Friday will further clear their stand. A section of farmers though remained firm on their stand that nothing short of repeal of the Acts would suffice them.

Earlier, in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and appealed to him to find an early resolution to the impasse, saying the agitation was affecting Punjab's economy and the nation’s security. Singh after the meeting, Shah at his residence said common ground must be found soon and the two sides should not take rigid positions on the matter.

Singh and the Congress are supporting the farmers’ stir and the Assembly also passed a set of Bills aimed at negating the Centre’s farm legislation.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday threatened to launch a countrywide agitation if the “anti-farmer” laws were not withdrawn.

Akali Dal stalwart Parkash Singh Badal has returned his Padma Vibhushan in protest against the farm laws.

Delhi had another day of traffic snarls and border blockades as farmers from different parts of the country converged in the city.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel