SC-Appointed Panel Reveals Most Farmers Bodies Supported Farm Laws

New Delhi: Before the three controversial farm laws were repealed by the Centre a Supreme Court-appointed committee had said that a “majority” farm unions support them and “a repeal or a long suspension” would be “unfair to this silent majority”. The committee stated that most farmers’ unions were against their withdrawal. The committee’s report was made public on Monday for the first time since it was submitted to the apex court a year ago.

At a press conference in New Delhi, Anil Ghanwat, one of the three members of the committee, released the report on March 21. On the occasion, the other two members of the committee, agricultural economists Ashok Gulati and Dr. Parmod Kumar Joshi, were not present.

The reports cited the feedback received by the committee. The reports stated, “The bilateral interactions of the committee with the stakeholders demonstrated that only 13.3 per cent of the stakeholders were not in favour of the three farm laws. Around 85.7 per cent of the farmer organizations representing around 3.3-crore farmers supported the laws.”

The feedback was received by the committee through online portals and e-mails. “The feedback received by the committee through its online portal established that one-third of the respondents did not support the farm laws and around two-thirds were in their favour. The feedback received through e-mails also shows that a majority supported the farm laws. In view of this feedback, the committee recommends that a repeal or a long suspension would, therefore, be unfair to this ‘silent’ supporters,” said the report.

As per the report, the committee had invited over 266 farmer organizations, including the ones protesting. However, the protesting farm organizations did not meet the committee. The report shows that out of 266 farm bodies invited, the committee “interacted directly” with 73 farmer bodies representing 3.83-crore farmers, of which 61 farmer organizations representing 3.3 crore farmers (85.7 per cent) “fully supported” the Acts.

The committee had an open section welcoming comments from the organizations on a detailed questionnaire on three farm laws on its portal. They got 19,027 responses. The committee recommended “revisiting” the MSP policy. They also recommended discontinuation of open-ended procurement, citing bulging central pool stocks.

The committee suggested making the MSP the prerogative of the states, providing for legal backing for such procurements at their own costs as the recent Punjab Amendment Act does, the report said.

The committee felt that the FCI should put a cap on procurement instead of blanket procurement of wheat and paddy. The report also stated that the committee also deliberated upon to allocate the Centre’s expenditure on procurement, storage and PDS of wheat and rice across states.

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