The Central government is open to amending some provisions in new farm laws, the agriculture minister said on Thursday, after farmers rejected proposed changes to the controversial laws they said would harm their interests and help big food retailers.
Farmers have been demonstrating since late last month over reforms enacted in September that loosened rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce, which had protected farmers from an unfettered free market for decades.
“The government is open to amend objectionable provisions in the new laws,” Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters, adding the current system of procurement that ensures state-set prices for crops would continue.
Farmers pledged to escalate the stir by organising a ‘Delhi Chalo’ and an all-India protest on December 14, a boycott of BJP legislators and a blockade of the Delhi-Jaipur highway any time by December 12, during which no toll booth would be allowed to levy any charge.
Digging in their heels, the leaders said they will settle for nothing less than scrapping all three recently-passed farm laws that seek to increase the role of private trade in agriculture, encourage contract farming and set a higher bar for imposing stock limits.
The series of steps announced by farm leaders sets the stage for intensified confrontation with the Centre even as the unions announced a boycott of Ambani and Adani products — the groups held up as symbols of ‘corporatisation’ of agriculture.