Once again proving that the protests are against the farm laws are based on nothing but lies, Andolanjeevi Yogendra Yadav resorted to falsehood to claim that the newly enacted farm laws have harmed the farmers. Farmer union leaders and opposition parties have been claiming that the new laws will harm the APMCs, and to prove that the claim is true, ichchadhari protestor Yogendra Yadav produce a document containing the amount of tax collected by various mandis in Madhya Pradesh.
The document shows that the fee collected by 7 mandis in the state has come down considerably in January this year, as compared to the same month last year. Yadav said that the PM wants to know how have the news laws affected the existing APMCs. And proceeded to reply to the same by mentioning the total Mandi fee collection in Madhya Pradesh, which was ₹88 crore in January 2020, but ₹29 in January 2021. Concluding that the new farm laws had caused the mandi fee collection by a huge margin, he asked, “Would that count as adverse effect, Modiji?”
Although the document does show that the mandi fee collection in Madhya Pradesh has come down by 66.75%, it has nothing to do with the farm laws. Because, while he is claiming that new laws have already starting affecting farm produce market in the country, that is not possible. That is because, although the farm laws have been passed by the parliament in September last year, their implementation has been stayed by the Supreme Court.
On January 12 this year, the apex court suspended the implementation of the three farm laws in view of protests against them from the farmers of Punjab. The court had also formed a committee to resolve the issue. This means, even if the laws were already being enforced, they were suspended from January 12. Therefore, the reason for the drop in then mandi fee in Madhya Pradesh can’t be attributed to the new farm laws, it must have other reasons.
And that other reason is, the state government had reduced the mandi fee last year. In October 2020, the Madhya Pradesh government had decided to slash the fee from 1.70% to 0.50%. This means the fee was cut by around 70%, which matches with the collected fee which went down by around 67% in January. The decision was taken after the traders had gone on a strike demanding the cut the rate, saying the fee was too high.
Mandi fee reduction good or bad for farmers?
The fact that Yogendra Yadav chose to use the Mandi fee in Madhya Pradesh also shows how he has no idea about farming issues. As many people replied to him on Twitter, if the tax collection has come down, it means that the farmers are now paying less tax. Even if we set aside the above mentioned facts and consider that the reduction in the fee collection was cause by the new farm laws, ‘farmer leaders’ should praise the laws, not criticise them. Because, it would mean that the farmers are moving away from APMCs to private buyers, where there is no mandi fee. The APMC mandis still exist, but if the farmers are choosing to sell to private buyers and in private markets in place of APMC mandis, they are using an option to get more price for their produce by not having to pay a tax.
This shows that as already pointed out by many already, the ongoing protests are actually for the middlemen who thrive on the regulated markets, and who will suffer once the free-market regime is established in the farm sector thanks to the new laws. Andolanjeevi Yogendra Yadav is more worried about the amount of tax collected from farmers, not on the savings the farmers will be able to make by selling outside the APMC mandis.
NDTV joins in spreading lies
Joining hands with Yogendra Yadav, controversial media house NDTV also published a report on the reduction in mandi fee collection in Madhya Pradesh, and blamed the new farm laws the same. The report blatantly ignored the fact that the laws have been suspended by the Supreme Court. NDTV also didn’t mention that the mandi fee rates have been reduced by the Madhya Pradesh government, a fact it itself had reported earlier. The report mentions that farmers are going to other sellers in place of going to APMC mandis. This implies that farmers are getting better prices elsewhere, and hence not going to mandis. But still the report tries to paint a gloomy picture on the situation, as part of creating baseless fear about the farm laws.