The Centre has assured that the farm ordinances will have no bearing on the existing crop procurement policy and that the minimum support price (MSP) system will continue, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Thursday. He had written to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar last month, expressing apprehensions of Punjab's farmers on the implication of three farm ordinances passed by the Centre.
These ordinances are the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance. "There is no change in the present policy of the purchase of agriculture produce through MSP through state agencies," Badal said referring to a letter written to him by Tomar on Wednesday.
The SAD chief said the government India has further declared that the "official procurement and MSP will not only continue but "will continue to be the priority of the central government". The ruling Congress in Punjab and several farmers' outfits have been opposing these three farm ordinances.
They have expressed apprehension that these will pave the way for dismantling of the MSP system. They have also claimed that the ordinances are against the country's federal structure. Badal said that the Centre's assurances have come only after deliberations at the highest level. The SAD chief said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured him that these commitments would be reflected in the legislation to turn this ordinance into an Act.
"The state APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) Act and institutions established under such statutes will continue to operate and are not affected in any way by these ordinances," Badal said while referring to the letter.
The SAD chief shared details of the letter at a special meeting of the party's core committee. Addressing a virtual press conference, Badal said," As long as I am alive, I will not let procurement at MSP to discontinue. This is a cause for which I do not and will not hesitate to make any sacrifice." He said that the SAD wanted to respond to the criticism of its stand on ordinances only after concrete and unequivocal written assurances from the Centre. These assurances are in black and white, and the issue of continuation of procurement of crops at MSP is settled once and for all. Procurement will continue at MSP as before, he said.