Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that contract farming will not be detrimental for farmers and alleged that Congress was opposing agricultural reforms for "political reasons".

"Contract farming will not be detrimental to farmers. There are mechanisms to see that both parties flourish. FPO (Farmer Producer Organisation) will pool small and marginal farmers as groups so that they can have good bargaining with the buyers," she said at a press conference here.

"Now it is possible to balance the selling price for farmers as well as buying price for consumers. Farmers can identify their buyers and sell anywhere in the world. District collector will be the adjudicating authority in case of any concerns," she added.

Sitharaman said that the ministers of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government are interacting with farmers and clarifying their doubts about the new farm laws.

"In the recent parliament session, three farm bills were passed. Our ministers are going to all states, interacting with farmers and clarifying doubts about these laws. These reforms are not new ones. Even opposition parties had put these reforms in their manifestos," she said.

"Despite many challenges including the corona pandemic, we passed the amendments. A farmer can now take his produce to any state. I met some farmers on my way from the airport to here. They thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the reforms as they can sell their produce anywhere in India after these reforms," she added.

The Union Finance Minister further said Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) will remain and the umbrella of Minimum Support Price (MSP) will be extended to many crops.

"APMCs will remain. We are not touching them. A farmer can transact outside the market yard or out of the state, there will be no tax on it. Earlier, Minimum Support Price (MSP) was given on only paddy and wheat crops. But now our government is giving MSP to several other produce also. The MSP will continue," she said.

"Agri-based industries are being encouraged. Farmers are free to sell their produce to any buyer. The essential commodity act is also amended accordingly. We are encouraging food-processing industries," she added.

The minister said states will not lose their control over agriculture or agri-marketing.

"The amendments we made are under the central list only. I repeat, we did not touch APMCs as they are under the state list. In fact, Congress in its election manifesto said that it will repeal the APMCs. But now Congress is opposing the reforms for political reasons." Three new agriculture laws have been enacted after passage of the relevant bills in the monsoon session of parliament - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

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