The Tamil Nadu government on Friday sought to assert that the three farm bills passed in Parliament recently will not affect farmers, saying Chief Minister K Palaniswami will not allow any legislation detrimental to their interests.
The farmers in the state will not be affected by the Central legislations, Agriculture Minister R Doraikannu said.
The government's assertion came on a day when farmers staged protests in different parts of the state against the agri-related bills that are being strongly opposed to by ryots across the country, besides opposition parties including the Congress and the DMK.
Doraikannu said being a farmer himself, Chief Minister K Palaniswami will not accept any legislation that went against the state farmers' interests.
Reacting sharply to DMK president M K Stalin who has been targeting Palaniswami and the ruling AIADMK for backing the bills, alleging it was "an unpardonable betrayal of farmers' welfare", Doraikannu said the chief minister has supported the bills to facilitate improvement in farmers' lives.
As a farmer the chief minister knew what was beneficial for the farmers and he would not accept any legislation against the interests of farmers in the state, he added.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, were aimed at enabling corporates to hoard agricultural products and would destroy the livelihood of farmers, Stalin had claimed.
He had lashed out at Palaniswami and his AIADMK for supporting the BJP in Parliament on the matter, and has said the CM should stop claiming himself to be a farmer.
Agriculture Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said Tamil Nadu was the first state in the country to have passed a Bill in the state Legislative Assembly on contract farming last year, even before the Centre passed the legislation in Parliament recently. The state legislation on contract farming would help ryots get a fair price for their produce through contracts with companies buying their produce.
"For instance, because of the Contract Farming Act, a tomato farmer can sign an agreement with a tomato sauce company to buy his/her produce in the next few months at a rate, quantity and quality agreed upon by both parties." "And the company has to buy it as per the agreement, irrespective of fluctuation in market prices at a later date," Bedi said. Meanwhile, farmers staged protests in the state against the Central bills.
A large number of them staged a protest in front of the Tiruchirappalli Collectorate with their hands chained and nooses around their necks. They even displayed human skulls, apparently to indicate that the farm bills were detrimental to them.
At Kovilpatti in southern Tuticorin district, about 180 farmers were arrested for staging a picketing agitation demanding withdrawal of the bills. The farm bills and the AIADMK's support to them have become a point of debate between the ruling dispensation and the DMK.
Stalin, while insisting that the bills will "enslave" the farmers to the corporates, had hit out at Palaniswami for supporting it. The chief minister has said his party supported the farm bills as they benefited them and lashed out at Stalin saying though he could not pick holes even with a magnifying glass, he has still announced a protest against it, on September 28.
"Since the three bills benefited the farmers, we supported it. We will support any initiative aimed at benefiting the farmers and at the same time oppose any scheme that would affect them and this is our stand and we have made this clear," he had said on Wednesday.