Tamil Nadu

CM rebuts Stalin’s criticism on farm Bills

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday supported the Centre’s three Bills on agriculture reforms, arguing that they would “protect the farmers of the State in the event of an unforeseen price fall and benefit them with an assured income”.

Rebutting DMK president M.K. Stalin’s criticism of the AIADMK’s support to the Bills in the Lok Sabha, he said, “Because I, as a farmer, have well understood [the implications of the legislation], the Bills have not been opposed. The situation prevailing in Punjab is not applicable to Tamil Nadu.”

Awaiting nod

The Bills seek to replace the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance. They are now awaiting the approval of the Rajya Sabha.

In a detailed response to the DMK leader’s observations, Mr. Palaniswami said the Centre was competent to frame laws on the subject. He said the legislation on price assurance and farm services would regulate contract-farming, which was being practised in respect of cocoa, sugarcane and poultry in Tamil Nadu. It would fulfil the objectives of a State law on contract-farming. As it was intended to promote contract-farming, there were no provisions that compelled or adversely affected farmers.

“The Leader of the Opposition [Mr. Stalin], who is now opposing the Bill [on price assurance and farm services] for political reasons, did not oppose a similar law brought in by the Amma [former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa] government [last year],” he said.

As for the Bill to promote trade and commerce in farmers’ produce, Mr. Palaniswami explained that in regulated markets of Tamil Nadu [unlike in Punjab], there were no commission agents in the light of an amendment to the State’s Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act. When transactions took place at regulated markets and notified trade areas in Tamil Nadu, a 1% market fee was being collected from traders on the value of agricultural produce purchased by them. But, for wheat and rice in Punjab, a 3% market fee and another 3% in rural development cess were being levied, apart from a 2.5% fee for commission agents. This was why Punjab would suffer a huge revenue loss in the absence of the levy of all the fees.

Dismissing Mr. Stalin’s charge that the farmers would be required to submit their permanent account numbers (PAN), the Chief Minister said only traders had to provide their PAN. Besides, the Bill would not come in the way of transactions at the regulated markets and procurement of agricultural produce at minimum support price.

Refuting the DMK leader’s criticism that the Bill on essential commodities would enable corporates to hoard agricultural produce, Mr. Palaniswami said the removal of the stock-holding limit would benefit not only farmers but also consumers. There was also a provision against hoarding. Besides, farmers’ markets (‘uzhavar sandhai’) would not be hit by the legislation on promotion and facilitation of trade and commerce in farmers’ produce, which had, on the contrary, permitted the markets.

“I take pride in calling myself a farmer not just once but 1,000 times. The government will continue to take strong measures to safeguard the interests of farmers,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 1, 2020 1:05:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/cm-rebuts-stalins-criticism-on-farm-bills/article32651078.ece

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