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Tamil Nadu CM Throws Weight Behind Centre on Farm Bills, Accuses DMK of Doing Politics

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (PTI Photo)

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (PTI Photo)

In Tamil Nadu, while cocoa, sugarcane and poultry contract farming was already in vogue, the Centre'sbill on empowerment would help streamline it, he said, adding, it shall also further strengthen the objectives of a 2019 Tamil Nadu law of a similar nature enacted to increase farmers income.

The DMK was opposing the farm bills for political reasons and these would benefit farmers from unexpected price fall, Chief Minister K Palaniswami asserted on Saturday backing the Centre's initiative. DMK chief, M K Stalin, who is opposing the bills like the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services did not take a stand against a similar law in Tamil Nadu.

"I would like to clarify that when a similar law was implemented by Amma's government, the leader of opposition did not oppose it," he said. In Tamil Nadu, while cocoa, sugarcane and poultry contract farming was already in vogue, the Centre'sbill on empowerment would help streamline it, he said, adding, it shall also further strengthen the objectives of a 2019 Tamil Nadu law of a similar nature enacted to increase farmers income.

"There is no provision in the bill to force the farmers or aspects that would affect them," he said in a statement. As per the provisions of the bill, wholesalers, farm firms and others could enter into agreements with farmers.

Through this, farmers will get an assured income, he said and stressed that while the agreement would prevent them from getting affected by price falls, it also shall, at the same time provide benefits if the market price increases over and above the agreed price. Also, those procuring farm produce would be assured of the desired quality and supplies.

The interests of both farmers and buyers would be protected and quality farm produce stood assured for food processing ventures which shall also mean creation of employment opportunities in villages. On the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce(Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Palaniswami explained that in accordance with an existing law in Tamil Nadu, there is no question of middlemen in the regulated markets and 'marketfee' of one per cent alone is levied on traders who buy produce.

However, in Punjab the market fee for key produce like paddy and wheat was three per cent in addition to three per cent rural development cess and a 2.5 per cent fee for middlemen. "As per the new law, since such fee cannot believed in notified trade area, other than the market premises, there will be a huge revenue loss for the Punjab government,"he said indicating a likely reason for opposition from that State.

A key objective of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce bill was to give farmers full freedom to sell their produce wherever they desired and there shall be no fee for farmers or traders. Also, the Chief Minister went in detail into the other bills to counter the main opposition party'sallegations against it.

Palaniswami said the new bills would in no way affect the paddy procurement based on Minimum Support Price and the new laws would rather facilitate MSP for farmers, aid the farmers market scheme and prevent hoarding of farm produce by firms. Farmers would not be affected since procurement and storage of farm produce for the Public Distribution System as per the MSP would also continue in Tamil Nadu, he said.

Taking pride in being a farmer, Palaniswami, said he was not like the leader of opposition, Stalin, "who does not know either agriculture or the farmers welfare." "I am proud to say for a thousand times that I am a farmer. I would like to reassure that Amma's government will continue to take resolute steps for protecting the welfare of farmers." The Chief Minister accused Stalin of giving a false statement that farmers would be affected by the farm bills piloted by the union government. "The (farms) bills adopted by the Lok Sabha will do good to the farmers in Tamil Nadu by ensuring them an assured income avoiding adverse impacts from unexpected price fall.

As a farmer, since I have realised it, I did not oppose it," he asserted adding the farm scenario in states like Punjab does not match with that of Tamil Nadu. DMK president Stalin alleged the bills would lead to hoarding of farm produce by the corporates and adversely affect the support price.

Also, he claimed the agri bills would sound a death knell to farmers and they would be "enslaved" by business houses. The main opposition party has called for a meeting of its allies to deliberate on the issue on Monday.

The Lok Sabha has passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers(Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, which seek to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agricultural produce. These bills replace the ordinances issued already by the Centre.

The ruling BJP is confident of the passage of the bills in Rajya Sabha as well.


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