Jammu: The Congress on Thursday termed three farm bills as “anti-farmer” and said that it would adversely affect the interest of 62 crores farmers and farm laborers by destroying the agriculture produce market system (APMC) in the country.
The party cited Bihar as an example, saying in 2006 the APMC Act was abolished in the state resulting in a bad situation for farmers whose produce was purchased at cheaper rates by middlemen and sold in other states at MSP after earning profits.
“The three anti-farmer bills passed by the BJP government will adversely affect the interests of 62 crore farmers and farm laborers by destroying the APMC. The farmers will neither get the minimum support price (MSP) nor will they get the market rate of his produce,” Congress national spokesperson Pawan Khera told reporters here.
Flanked by Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress (JKPCC) president Ghulam Ahmed Mir and other senior party leaders, Khera said the three laws were passed after bypassing parliamentary traditions and genuine objections of the Congress and other opposition parties.
He said this will have disastrous consequences as 86 percent of small and marginal farmers having less than five acres of land will go from being owners to contract laborers under the new laws.
He said that the BJP government under the garb of new legislation wants to implement the Shanta Kumar Committee Report, thus bringing an end to the procurement system based on MSP through the FCI. Khera said this will result in farmers being solely dependent upon contract farming where a big company will determine the rates of the produce at its own discretion.
Khera said the new system, by abolishing the stock limit of agriculture products, will neither benefit farmers nor consumers. He said it will benefit only hoarders and black- marketeers who will purchase the items at cheaper rates and sell them at higher rates.
The Congress leader quoted a 2020-21 report which stated that the government stocks pulses after purchasing from farmers and sells it in the open market when the next crop of pulses comes in, as a result of which the farmer does not get the market rate of their crop.
The Modi government’s claim that farmers will now be free to sell their agriculture produce anywhere in the country is a blatant lie, Khera alleged, adding that even under the existing system, the farmers are at liberty to sell their produce anywhere as there are no restrictions under the APMC Act.
The Congress leader said that with an average landholding of two acres or less, a small farmer is not expected to take his produce from one state to another for a better price. He said the farmer will sell it at a nearby mandi at MSP which, if abolished, will be detrimental to the farmers.
He said that with the abolishment of these grains and fruit and vegetable markets, crores of people dependent on them in the shape of laborers, transporters, and others allied jobs, will lose their livelihood and the states will lose revenue which they use to earn as market fee and rural developmental funds.
The Congress leader cited Punjab as an example that earned Rs 736 crore as market fee and almost an equal amount as rural developmental funds during the procurement of wheat. He said Rs 613 crore was earned by wholesale dealers as commission and this amount was not paid by farmers but by the Food Corporation of India or other private companies procuring at MSP.
Khera also questioned how the mandi system will survive when any transaction in the APMC was going to be taxed but outside there would be no such fee.