Farmers take hard line on agendas for today's talks

Begin talks with repeal of farm laws, protesting farmers tell Centre

The farmers' leaders have held five rounds of talks with government representatives

Farmers take part in a demonstration against the central government's recent agricultural reforms while blocking a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border in Singhu on December 29, 2020. Credit: AFP Photo

Ahead of talks with the Centre, farmers agitating on the borders of Delhi have asked the government to stick to the chronology of the issues listed by them by spelling out the modalities or repeal of the three farm laws.

In a letter to the government on December 26, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha – the umbrella organisation leading the 34-day agitation – had listed out four issues – modalities for repeal of the three farm laws, legal guarantee for procurement of farm produce at minimum support price, relaxation in penalties for stubble burning and shelving amendments to the Electricity Act.

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“It is important that the talks follow the above agenda for a logical solution to contemporary issues,” the leaders of the 40 farmers' organisations said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Food & Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal met Home Minister Amit Shah to finalise the government strategy for the meeting with farmers' organisations on Wednesday.

The Centre has ruled out repeal of the three farm laws, but has expressed readiness to address their concerns regarding minimum support price, Agriculture Produce Market Committees by giving a written assurance on continuation of the two measures.

It had also expressed readiness to amend the laws related to contract farming and creating additional trade avenues for selling farm produce to address some issues flagged by them during the previous rounds of talks.

The farmers' leaders have held five rounds of talks with government representatives, including Tomar and an informal round of discussions with Shah.

For the past 34 days, thousands of farmers – mostly from Punjab and Haryana have been camping on the borders of the national capital demanding repeal of the The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act contending that they were designed to benefit corporate sector and not farmers.

Groups of farmers from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have been camping at Rajashthan-Haryana border at Shahjahanpur.