Central Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar ruled out abolishing the three new agriculture laws on Friday, but said the govt is ready to resume discussions with protesting farmer unions about the legislation’s provisions.
To break the deadlock and end the farmers’ protest, the government and unions have held 11 rounds of talks, the most recent on January 22. Following mass protests during a tractor rally by protesting farmers on January 26, talks have not resumed.
Thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camped out at Delhi’s borders for more than six months in protest of three laws they claim will end state procurement of crops at Minimum Sales Price (MSP).
The Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the three laws until further orders are issued, and a committee has been formed to find solutions.
‘The Indian government is prepared to hold talks with farmers. Except for repeal, Narendra Singh Tomar will welcome any farmers’ union that wishes to discuss Act provisions, even at midnight’ In a video posted to his Twitter account, the agriculture minister stated.
Three union ministers, including Narendra Singh Tomar and Food Minister Piyush Goyal, have met with the protesting farmer unions 11 times.
The government’s negotiations with 41 farmer groups hit a stumbling block on January 22 when the unions flatly rejected the Centre’s proposal to suspend the laws.
During the 10th round of talks on January 20, the Centre offered to postpone the laws for 1-1.5 years and form a joint committee to come up with solutions in exchange for agitating farmers returning to their respective homes from Delhi’s borders.
Three laws were passed in September last year
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 all three laws were passed by Parliament in month of September of last year.
Farmer groups have claimed that these laws will destroy the mandi and MSP procurement systems, leaving farmers at the mercy of large corporations, despite the government’s dismissal of these fears as unfounded.
The Supreme Court suspended the execution of the three laws until further orders were issued on January 11 and created a four-member panel to resolve the dispute. Bhupinder Singh Mann, President of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, has recused himself from the committee.
The panel also includes Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra), and agricultural economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati. They have concluded the stakeholder consultation process.