The tenth round of talks between the Centre and farmer unions has been postponed by a day. The crucial talks, slated for today, will now take place on Wednesday at 2 pm. “The government’s ministerial meeting with farmer unions will be held on January 20 at 2 pm at Vigyan Bhawan, instead of January 19,” the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
The previous nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi’s borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three acts.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed committee to resolve the impasse will hold its first meeting today.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now demanding repeal of the three laws – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations. The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and ruled out a repeal of the laws.
In another related development, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has expressed hope that protesting farmer unions will discuss alternatives other than the repeal of the new farm laws in the tenth round of talks and appealed to them not to go ahead with their tractor rally on Republic Day in Delhi.
“I am hopeful that farmers’ unions will discuss alternatives (other than the repeal of the laws) so that we can reach a solution,” he told reporters.