Tomar says protest against farm laws an 'exception'; hopes for an early solution

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New Delhi, Dec 16 (PTI) The ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders is an 'exception' and 'limited to one state', Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Wednesday and hoped for an early solution as the government is in talks with farmer unions.

'There is an atmosphere of enthusiasm in the country because of the recent reforms in the farm sector,' he said while referring to the enactment of three new legislations.

'The ongoing protest is an exception and the agitation is limited to one state. We are holding discussions and talks. I believe there will be an early solution,' Tomar said at a virtual conference organised by industry body Assocham.

The minister noted that while there is an agitation going on on one side, there are also lakhs of farmers coming in support of these laws.

Tomar highlighted the measures taken by the central government in the last six years to boost farmers' income and make agriculture sector profitable.

Thousands of farmers, particularly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting for more than two weeks against the three farm laws, saying the new legislation will lead to the dismantling of the MSP (Minimum Support Price) and mandi systems and leave them at the mercy of corporates.

Tomar, who is leading the negotiation with about 40 farmer unions along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, said the government has taken various initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic for the growth of farm sector, including a Rs 1,00,000 crore fund for creating farm-level infrastructure and setting up of 10,000 FPOs. (Farmer Producer Organisations).

These budgetary provisions in agriculture and allied sector will strengthen the rural economy and make farming activities profitable, he said.

As the standoff continues between the government and groups of protesting farmers over the three farm laws, Tomar had on Tuesday said the Acts have been welcomed in various states and that the Centre was willing to continue its talks with 'genuine farm unions' to find a solution with an open mind.

The MSP at which the government commits to procure the produce from farmers is an administrative decision and it 'will continue as it is', the minister had said.

Earlier this week, Tomar told PTI that the next round of meeting will definitely happen to engage with farmers. The farmer leaders have to 'decide and convey' when they are ready for the next meeting, he added.

In its proposal to farmers last week, the Centre said it will give a written assurance that the MSP system will remain and also redress their other key concerns. The unions, however, are demanding complete roll back of the central laws and have threatened to intensify their agitation. PTI MJH LUX RAM