Pinnacle Court panel says Minimum support price demand not supported sound sense, infeasible to implement

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The demand for legalising procurement of crops at minimum support price (MSP) isn't supported sound logic and is infeasible to implement, said the Supreme Court-appointed committee in its report which also flagged how the repeal of farm laws would be “unfair to the silent majority” who supported it.

The report, made public by one in all the Committee members Anil Ghanwat on Monday, noted that around two-thirds of over 19,000 respondents to its detailed questionnaire had, in fact, supported the farm laws, considering its benefits to farmers and therefore the overall agriculture sector across the country.

Though the 40 farmer unions, including 32 from Punjab, that had protested against the farm laws (now repealed) failed to appear before the SC-appointed panel nor suffered its questionnaire, 61 of the 73 farm organisations the Committee interacted with “fully supported” the laws whereas seven others supported it with certain modifications.

The report by the three-member committee was submitted to the Supreme Court on Saint Joseph last year. The apex court had, however, not made the report public.

Meanwhile, the govt. struggling from the 40 unions had got the farm laws repealed through Parliament in November last year. The three laws were enacted by the govt. in 2020 to develop competitive agricultural markets by allowing sale of farm produce outside state-regulated markets, reduce transaction costs, and increase the farmer's share within the realized price of an agri-produce.

“I wrote letters to the apex court thrice requesting it to release the report. But we didn't get any response. i've got decided to form the report public because the farm laws have already been repealed and thus there's no relevance thereto now,” said Ghanwat, president of Swatantra Bharat Party, while releasing the report.

But regardless of the 98-page report said on MSP has more relevance now when the farmer organisations still pitch for demanding a legal guarantee and decided to improve their struggle for it.

The panel even said that the MSP and procurement support policy, as was designed for cereals during the revolution time, has to be revisited provided that huge surpluses of wheat and rice have emerged. It recommended many changes which the govt. may find useful while taking calls on other aspects of procurement of crops at MSP.

The panel, comprising farm economists Ashok Gulati P K Joshi as two other members, recommended that the procurement of crops at a declared MSP are often the prerogative of the states as per their specific agricultural policy priorities.

For wheat and rice, it suggested that there should be a cap on procurement which is commensurate with the wants of the general public distribution system (PDS).