During their sixth round of talks with the protesting farmers over the controversial laws, the three Union ministers on Wednesday rejected the demand to repeal the three agricultural laws. The farmers have been protesting over months against the farm bills they say will hurt their livelihoods. The Centre, however, proposed to set up a committee to examine the new farm laws.
The three Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash however discussed the possibility of a law on guaranteeing minimum prices for farm prices, according to a senior farmers’ representative present in the talks.
There seemed to be a great bonhomie during a lunch break between the farmers’ representative and the Union Ministers as they met to negotiate tougher decisions.
After the lunch break, the farmers raised their concern to scrap the three contentious laws completely.
Among their slew of demands, the farmers’ leaders have also demanded a law to make federally fixed minimum prices, known as minimum support prices.
“The ministers didn’t say anything on this but said they wanted to discuss the demand for a law on MSP,” said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, the leader of a faction of Bharatiya Kisan Union.
In the second round of talks, which were on at the time of filing this report, the government said a committee could be formed to scrutinise the three laws.
A representative from the government’s side also explained the pros and cons of a law on MSP. The government argued that a law making MSP compulsory for even private traders, essentially prohibiting sale of any farm produce below state-set prices, could result in chaos in markets.
Tomar said private traders may not buy at MSP rates if doing so wouldn’t be profitable for them.
The three farm laws were passed in September, which would essentially change the way India’s farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a network of decades-old, government marketplaces. It would allow traders to stockpile essential commodities for future sales and lay down a national framework for contract farming.