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Farmers protests: sixth round of talks today; the unions want the repeal of the laws and a greater MSP


The Union government will hold the sixth round of talks with protesting farmers’ unions on Wednesday, a fresh attempt to resolve a politically defiant strike by farmers who have surrounded the capital and want three recent farm laws in favor of reform.

Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal had sent a letter to agricultural leaders on Monday, responding to an email from agricultural unions on December 26 in which they had agreed to restart negotiations after rejecting the government’s call to resume the dialogue process repeatedly.

In his letter, the agriculture secretary invited 40 leaders representing Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of more than 400 agricultural organizations involved in the month-long agitation for a series of reforms that they say will damage their livelihoods.

The invitation from the agriculture ministry, a copy of which HT has seen, said that the talks would be led by Union ministers. Three Union ministers, Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash, are likely to represent the government’s side, an official said.

Also read: On the Chilla border, farmers plan to launch a protest march on January 26

The letter from the Ministry of Agriculture said that officials would discuss issues related to farmers in the three laws, indicating the government’s broad strategy to find a solution by addressing points of the legislation that farmers may have objections to.

In their December 26 email to the Agriculture Ministry, the farmers, however, stuck to their demand that the talks should be geared towards repealing the laws. The farmers detailed the topics they want to discuss.

In their email, they said that the first topic they wanted to discuss was the “modalities (to be adopted) for the repeal of the three central agricultural laws.”

Basically, the laws change the way Indian farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a decades-old network of government markets, which allow traders to store essential commodities for future sales and establish a national framework. for contract farming.

Together, the laws will allow large corporations and global supermarket chains to buy directly from farmers, without going through decades-long regulations.

Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations and would erode the government’s procurement system, whereby the government buys commodities, such as wheat and rice, at guaranteed rates, known as floor prices. support (MSP).

Second, the unions want “mechanisms to be adopted to convert the remunerative PEM recommended by the National Farmers Commission into a legally guaranteed right for all farmers and all agricultural products.”

These two main demands are the most complicated and will probably be a test of the fate of the negotiations.

Although the government has made desperate attempts to restart negotiations with the unions, it is not prepared to dismiss its reformist agenda.

Instead, the government has proposed a series of concessions and amendments. These include increased oversight of the proposed free markets and a written guarantee on the continuation of the MSP mechanism.

Farmers also want amendments to an ordinance to completely exclude farmers from any penalty for burning crop residues, one of the main causes of pollution, they stated in their letter.

Hindustan Times