TN Assembly repeals contract farming law enacted during AIADMK regime

Former Minister and MLA Agri SS Krishnamurthy said that this legislation on contract farming, enacted during the AIADMK regime, protected farmers from price fall and it guarded their interests. He wanted the government to reconsider its move and not repeal the Act.

A Bill to repeal a law on contract farming enacted during the previous AIADMK regime, and another one to enhance the pension for former MLAs from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 were among the Bills adopted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday.

When the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Repeal Bill was taken up for consideration, the AIADMK opposed it.

Former Minister and MLA Agri SS Krishnamurthy said that this legislation on contract farming, enacted during the AIADMK regime, protected farmers from price fall and it guarded their interests. He wanted the government to reconsider its move and not repeal the Act.

The TN’s contract farming and services legislation of 2019 was based on a model Bill then mooted by the Centre.

Minister for Agriculture, M R K Panneerselvam, replying said that if implemented, this law would lead to a situation wherein farmers would be compelled to get inputs from private firms and the price for produce could also be reduced by them by making claims vis-a-vis quality.

Also, farmers would not be able to approach courts, he added. Later, the repeal Bill was passed.

In 2019, the then AIADMK regime, during the enactment of the contract farming Bill had said that contract farming envisaged a pre-production season agreement between farmers -either individually or collectively- and sponsors, and this transferred the part of risk of post-harvest “market unpredictability” from the former to the latter.

It also fostered partnership between the two parties, whereby, the sponsor agrees to professionally manage inputs, technology, extension education, pre and post-harvest infrastructure and services as per mutually agreed terms.

“The small and marginal farmer thereby gets to enjoy additional benefits of operational efficiency,” it had said and referred to a Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services Bill, formulated by the Central government.

The AIADMK also opposed an amendment to the TN Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act, 1987 and said it was “undemocratic” and wanted it to be reconsidered.

This amendment Bill comes against the background of withdrawal of members (on 23 July, 2021 after DMK assumed power) to 24 market committees, nominated during the previous AIADMK regime. After their withdrawal, Special Officers were appointed.

The Statement of Objects of this Bill said the amendment is to extend the tenure of the Special Officers for a period of one year with effect from 30 November 2020 and to validate the action of having continued/appointed Special Officers under this Act.

The amendment Bill, piloted by Panneerselvam, was adopted.

Moved by Chief Minister M K Stalin, a Bill (TN State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2021) to constitute a Commission to safeguard the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and to protect and develop their economic and social well-being was passed.

A Bill, to amend the TN Payment of Salaries Act, 1951 was passed which enhances the pension payable to former members of the Assembly and the now defunct Legislative Council to Rs 25,000, from Rs 20,000, with effect from 1 April, 2020.

Also, “when any sitting member of the legislative Assembly dies during the term of his office, the lumpsum allowance payable to his family will be enhanced from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.”

The family pension payable to the legal heir of the deceased members of the House and Council would be enhanced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,500.

Another Bill to amend the TN Shops and Establishments Act, to ensure chairs for employees who spend long hours standing in shops was passed.

A Bill to amend the TN Acquisition of Land for Industrial Purposes Act, 1997 that envisages speeding up the process of land acquisition for industrial purposes by also delegating the power to issue notice for acquisition to the Collector was adoped.

The TN Assembly’s Budget session began on August 13 and the House was later adjourned sine die by Speaker M Appavu.

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