TMC, Congress, few other parties oppose agriculture sector reform bills

Opposition parties, including TMC, Congress, DMK and BSP, on Thursday opposed two agriculture sector reform bills in Lok Sabha, saying they are against the interests of small and marginal farmers.

Participating in a discussion on 'The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill' and 'The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill', Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said his party strongly opposes them and if the "draconian" bills are passed, they will adversely affect 60 per cent people of the country who are poor and marginal farmers.

Banerjee said the new laws will lead to hoarding of produce and their black-marketing and the Centre has sought to take away powers of states to act against them by amending another law. The common man will suffer and there will be price rise, he alleged.

K Shanmugasundaram (DMK) opposed the bills and stated that the government should have done away with the export restriction on agricultural commodities.

Congress member Ravneet Singh demanded that the bills should be withdrawn and wondered why the Centre was interfering when agriculture is in the concurrent list.

Opposing the bills, Samajwadi Party member S T Hasan criticised the NDA government's policies towards the farmers and said that if the government has been taking welfare schemes for the farmers, why "so many farmers are committing suicide".

He claimed that the "rise of prices of the fertilisers and the diesel have enhanced the burden on the farmers".

Hasan also said the legislations have no mention about the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and sought control over the MSP so that farmers could be benefitted. "Don't bring corporates, otherwise farmers and common people will suffer," he added.

BSP's Ritesh Pandey opposed the bills and said small and marginal farmers have been left to the mercy of corporate groups.

BJD's Anubhav Mohanty urged the Centre to send the bills to a Parliamentary committee, saying they have been brought very hastily.

Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra said the bills are in direct violation of the federal structure of the constitution, adding that "agriculture is a state subject. Then, surely trade and transaction cannot be taken out by the central government".

Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant welcomed the bills but sought more clarification from the government over certain aspects. He asked the Centre to ensure that any agreement between farmers and private parties makes it clear that farm produce will be sold at a price higher than the MSP.

T Rangaiah of the YSR Cogress supported the proposed laws, saying they will enable farmers to have barriers-free trade in their produce.

Supporting the two bills, JD-U member Santosh Kumar said the proposed legislations are "historic" and that farmers can easily access different markets for better price for their products.

Virendra Singh Mast (BJP) called the bills "historic", saying they will liberate farmers and bring in prosperity for them while helping the country become self-reliant. The proposed laws are revolutionary, he said.

Jagdambika Pal (BJP) said that if the two bills are approved by Lok Sabha, then the day will be celebrated as farmers empowerment day. With the legislations, the government is trying to give due prices of agriculture products of the farmers, he said.

Referring to agitations launched in different parts of the country against the bills, Pal said these were not farmers' agitation but agitations sponsored by the opposition Congress. After these bills become Acts, farmers will be free to sell their products at their place of choice and buyers and there will be no levy, no cess, he added.

Pal also noted that migration of youths from villages will be stopped as they will be attracted towards the farming now.

TDP member Ram Mohan Naidu said there are some genuine concerns regarding these two bills and that the central government should look into those concerns.

He also pointed out that contract farming can lead to loss in crop diversity.

M Srinivas Reddy (TRS) said farmers' interests should be protected at any cost, especially of small and marginal farmers.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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