Kerala will not implement new farm laws, to approach SC against it

The minister said that the new farm laws posed a threat to the food security of every citizen in the country, giving all the control to corporates.
VS Sunil Kumar
VS Sunil Kumar
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The farmers protest in Delhi is not just related to the agriculture sector but the food security of every citizen in India, said Kerala’s Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar. Reiterating the state government’s decision to approach the Supreme Court against the new farm laws passed by the union government, Minister Sunil Kumar spoke about the ‘danger that food security’ will come under if the laws were implemented.

“Every stage of farming, from sowing seeds to marketing the produce, will be under the control of corporate companies. There was hardly any discussion on the farm laws before they were passed in the Parliament. But the union government had detailed discussions with corporates. The big thought behind these farm laws is not to help the farmers, but the corporates. From railways and airports to banks, this government has been privatising everything. Bringing these new laws is a continuation of that process,” Sunil Kumar said, going live on his Facebook page.

Watch: Minister Sunil Kumar on farm laws

Assurances that the union government was giving on Minimum Support Price (MSP) were hollow, the minister said. “The reason so many farmers are protesting in Delhi now is because it is a life and death matter to them. This is not a law that can be accepted with a few revisions. The union government may say they will implement MSP, but how is it possible? It is like saying you will safeguard the roof of a house after destroying the foundation and the walls that it stands on. In the existing law of Essential Commodities Act (ECA), the union government had control over the FCI (Food Corporation of India) godowns where the food grains were stored. Only the government could store these, not individuals or companies. But with the new laws (including the amendment of the ECA), the union government will be handing over this power to the corporates. Every godown will be privatised.”

He further said that despite the assurances of the union government, the farmer will have no control over the soil – what to farm, when to farm and where to keep the produce, it would all be decided by corporates, the minister said.

The impact on the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) was also not going to help the farmer, although in theory, it is supposed to avoid the exploitation by middlemen, said Sunil Kumar. What it would do is have the Central government interfere with the running of states, disrupting the federal structure of the country, he said. States had the jurisdiction to decide if they wanted to implement the APMC Act.

“The laws may say that it gives the farmer the right to take their produce anywhere and sell it and avoid the registration tax. But the tax was already avoided by the government. And the new laws would give these rights of buying and storing farm produce from any state, to the corporates.”

Likening the laws to how the telecommunication company Jio was introduced, Sunil Kumar said that initially high prices would be offered to farmers to lure them and then gradually the MSP would cease to exist, after which the corporates would take over.

“The state government will not implement these farm laws in Kerala. We are ready to face whatever action is proposed by the union government for it. We will legally approach the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the laws. The advocate general will file it this week. We will also have discussions with other states on how to put pressure on the central government to withdraw the laws. This is how the LDF government could support the farmers strike.” 

Watch: Explained: The three farm Bills and why farmers are agitated

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