Repeal ‘Harmful’ Farm Laws: 10 Economists Write To Agri Minister

The economists say the laws are not in the interests of small and marginal farmers.

2 min read
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Ten senior economists from various institutions have written a letter to Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar, demanding that the three recently enacted farm laws be repealed. They have claimed the farm laws are "fundamentally harmful".

In the letter, accessed by ThePrint, the economists say the laws are not in the interests of small and marginal farmers, and state, “We believe that the Indian government should repeal the recent farm acts which are not in the best interests of the small and marginal farmers of the country, and about which a broad section of farmer organisations have raised very critical objections".

5 Concerns Raised by Economists

Citing five reasons to repeal the laws, the ten economists said, “We are putting forward five crucial reasons as to why these three Acts, brought in as a package by the government, are fundamentally harmful in their implications for the small farmers of India,”The Indian Express reported.

These five predominant concerns are:

  • The role of state governments in regulating agricultural markets is undermined because state government machinery is more accessible and accountable to farmers’ keeping in mind local realities.
  • The law will lead to two markets in the trade area, vis-a-vis a regulated APMC market and an unregulated one, each featuring different market rules and fees. The risk of exploitation of farmers’ will become higher for price and non-price issues, especially in rural and tribal areas. The risk of collusion and market manipulation is likely to continue from regulated APMC markets to the unregulated market space where there may be no mechanisms in place to address this unlike in the former market scenario.
  • Citing a caste study of Bihar, since it’s removal of the APMC Act in 2006, the economists illustrated the reduction of bargaining power and the choice of buyers for farmers, resulting in lower selling price for farmers’ in comparison to other states.
  • The presence of unequal players in contract farming will not protect the interest of the farmers.
  • The economists raised concerns about domination by big agri-business, where small farmers would be pushed out of the market system.

Economists’ Recommendations on Farm Laws

The economists recommend that the farmers need a better system that allows for higher bargaining power and more involvement through infrastructure like storage and processing, reported The Indian Express, in the acquired letter.

Urging the government to repeal the laws, they asked the government to do the “truly democratic thing", by holding meetings with farmer organisations and stakeholders and by proactively addressing their concerns. The economists have strongly suggested the government to withdraw the farm laws.

“We strongly believe that it is not desirable to perpetuate the impression that farmers are misled by others, when they are raising valid and genuine concerns. The current impasse is not in anyone’s interests, and it is the responsibility of the government to proactively resolve it by addressing the farmers’ concerns,” the letter states, according to ThePrint.

(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Print)

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