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Majority Of Farmers’ Unions Favoured Farm Laws, Says SC Appointed Panel

A Supreme Court-appointed commission had urged against repealing the three unpopular agricultural legislation months before the Centre did so, stating that a “majority” of farm unions favoured them and that “a repeal or a protracted suspension” would be “unfair to this quiet majority.” The committee’s report was made public for the first time on Monday, a year after it was presented to the Supreme Court.

Anil Ghanwat, one of the committee’s three members, had a news conference in New Delhi on Monday to unveil the 92-page report. Agricultural economists Ashok Gulati and Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, two other members of the committee, were not present.

“The bilateral contacts of the committee with the stakeholders indicated that just 13.3 percent of the stakeholders were not in favour of the three agricultural legislation,” the report adds, citing input collected by the committee. The legislation were backed by 85.7 percent of farmer organisations representing 3.3 million farmers.”

“According to the comments obtained by the committee via its online site, one-third of respondents oppose the agricultural legislation, while the other two-thirds favour them. The bulk of e-mail responses indicate that the agricultural legislation were well-received. “In light of this input, the committee believes that repeal or a lengthy suspension would be unjust to these’silent’ supporters,” the study said.

The committee invited 266 farmer organisations, including the protesting agricultural unions, according to the report. The protesting agricultural organisations, on the other hand, did not appear before the committee. The committee “interacted directly” with 73 farmer bodies representing 3.83 million farmers, according to the report, with 61 farmer organisations representing 3.3 million farmers (85.7%) “totally supporting” the Acts. According to different government estimates, India’s farmer population ranges from 9 to 15 million.

In addition, the committee published a thorough questionnaire on three agricultural legislation on its website, which garnered 19,027 replies. The committee also proposed “revising” the MSP policy and ending open-ended procurement, citing bloated central pool supplies as justification.

The committee proposed making the MSP a state prerogative, with legal underpinning for such procurements at their own expense, as the new Punjab Amendment Act provides, according to the study. Instead of a blanket purchase of wheat and paddy, the committee recommended that the FCI set a procurement ceiling.

According to the article, the group also discussed allocating the Centre’s spending on wheat and rice procurement, storage, and PDS among states. The group also suggested that paddy be gradually replaced with more sustainable high-value crops, particularly in the Punjab-Haryana area.

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