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    Ready for talks, say farmer leaders after PM Modi’s invite

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    The farmer unions, agitating against the new agri laws, on Monday said they are ready for the next round of talks with the government, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them to end their stir and resume dialogue. The union leaders also asked the government to fix a date and time for the meeting.

    Earlier, while replying to a debate in Rajya Sabha, the prime minister had assured that the minimum support price (MSP) will not be done away with even after the implementation of the new laws. “The MSP was there, it is there and will remain,” Modi had said.

    A group of Union ministers have so far held eleven rounds of talks with the protesting farmers, but they failed to break the impasse as the farmer unions stuck to their demand that the contentious laws be repealed.

    In the last round of talks, the government even offered to keep the laws in abeyance for 12-18 months, but the protesters were unimpressed.

    In his speech at Rajya Sabha, Modi vehemently denied that the laws will end MSP or the mandi system of crop procurement.

    Reeling out statistics, the prime minister said over two-third of farmers have small landholdings and the new laws give them the freedom to sell their produce anywhere, helping to realise the best prices.

    Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for over 70 days, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

    The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

    However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.

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