MSP will stay, farmers will get investment, technology: Govt on farm sector bills
The ordinances seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmers' produce outside notified farm mandis, and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players prior to the production for sale of agri-produce, according to the government.
New Delhi: The government on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha three important and contentious agricultural Bills –– the Essential Commodities (Amendment) 2010, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 –– to provide legislative framework to the recent ordinances.
The House also passed through voice vote two Bills which had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha –– the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2020, and the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2020.
While introducing the farm Bills, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar asserted that these pieces of legislation will help farmers get a remunerative price for their produce as well as private investments and technology, even as he assured the house that the minimum support price (MSPs) system would continue.
Dismissing apprehensions raised by certain Opposition MPs, Tomar argued that the proposed laws will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice. Tomar said that almost 86% of farmers have agricultural land of less than two hectares and they are often unable to benefit from MSP.
The Congress and some other Opposition parties protested by alleging that these Bills would undermine the safety net provided to farmers by the MSP system and will lead to their exploitation by big companies. They also claimed that the Bills amounted to “unilateral” encroachment into the domain of states.
Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “These can only be brought by state governments. The Centre is trying to nullify the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) law enacted by various state governments”.
Shashi Tharoor said, “It is beyond the legislative competence of this House to enact any law on agriculture, which is a domain of the state governments”.
TMC member Saugata Roy claimed that farming will move into the hands of capitalists due to these laws.
Question Hour Suspended
Some Opposition members, including Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Manish Tewari and Asaduddin Owaisi registered their protest when the Lok Sabha adopted a motion brought by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to suspend the Question Hour during this extraordinary session. They urged that the government must rethink and said the Question Hour is integral to the functioning of Parliament. However, the defence minister and Joshi said the decision was arrived at after consultations with the floor leaders of various political parties. Joshi quoted precedents.
Singh said, “Among the leaders who I had spoken to included Adhir Ranjan Ji who too had agreed to the proposal to suspend the Question Hour”. Speaker Om Birla then let the motion be carried out through a voice vote.