Centre-farmer talks end after 7 hours, next meet on Dec 5; Govt open to discussion on MSP, APMCs

A meeting between farmers’ representatives and the central government at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi ended after seven hours of deliberation on Thursday. The meeting was held at a time when thousands of farmers are camping on the outskirts of Delhi in protest.

Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar walked out of the meeting and told media outlets that the next such discussion between farmers’ representatives and the Centre will be held at 2 pm on December 5.

Apart from top officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, Union Minister Piyush Goyal was also part of the high-powered group tasked with hearing out the farmers’ concerns.

Centre wants to strengthen APMCs: Tomar

After hearing the demands voiced by the 40-member farmers’ delegation, the central government is considering tax parity between APMCs and private mandis. The Centre has also expressed its willingness for wider role for APMCs.

“Government will contemplate about seeing that APMC is further strengthened and its usage increases. New laws lay down provision for private mandis outside purview of APMCs. So, we will also contemplate about having an equal tax for private as well as mandis under the AMPC Act,” Narendra Singh Tomar said.

“It was raised in meeting that if trade takes place outside the purview of mandi, it will take place on the basis of PAN Card, which can be easily acquired by anyone today. So, a trader should be registered. We will also ensure that the trader gets registered,” he added.

While reiterating that the new farm laws comprise legal protection for small farmers, the Union Minister for Agriculture said, “To resolve any dispute, there is a provision of SDM court in the new bill but farmers were asking the provision to take these matters to the district court.”

Tomar said that the government is open to discuss this issue.

“They [farmers’ delegation] also expressed their concerns over an Ordinance on stubble burning and the Act on electricity. The government is open to consider and discuss these issues as well,” Narendra Singh Tomar said.

What next for farmers’ agitation?

The farmer unions and various groups will brief the protestors about the discussion at 11 am Friday.

Farm leader Rakesh Tikat said there is some positive development but the agitation will continue for the time being. “Now, we are hopeful that there may be some positive outcome from the December 5 meeting,” Tikat said adding that the government is also open to discussion on MSP.

The ongoing farmers’ agitation entered Day-7 on Thursday.

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