The government is open to considering ways to strengthen mandis, create a level-playing field with proposed private markets, and freedom to approach higher courts for dispute resolutions in a bid to address the concern raised by protesting farmers' groups, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Thursday while asserting that procurement at minimum support price will continue.
Addressing media after the marathon meeting that lasted for almost eight hours, the minister said there is no threat to farmers' land from corporates and the government is ready to make it clearer, if needed.
Tomar, who led the government side at the fourth round of talks at Vigyan Bhawan, said the next meeting will take place on Saturday at 2 pm which he hoped would take the matter to a decisive stage and towards a final resolution.
He also appealed to the farmer bodies to end their protest, keeping in mind the cold weather.
He also said there is "no ego involved" and the government has agreed to "discuss and consider with an open mind" some major points of concerns among farmers about the three new laws, including on strengthening of the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandi system, tax parity with proposed private mandis and freedom for farmers to approach higher courts for any dispute resolution.
Tomar said the government will also consider all these issues on Friday and so will the union leaders, before coming to the table again on Saturday.
Asked whether the government is ready to amend the three contentious laws, Tomar said, "I am not a fortune teller. When we will meet the day after, we hope to move towards a resolution."
Union leaders, however, said they want nothing but repealing of the contentious laws.
"The government wants amendments, but we do not want that. We told them that we want the laws to be repealed," a union leader said after attending the meeting.
A statement issued on behalf of the unions said the government offered to consider some amendments to the three Central Farm Acts, but the offer was rejected.
"Farmers told the government that it had only two options -- either repeal or use force on the protesting farmers to remove them."
Tomar said the government will also be open to looking into farmers' concerns related to an ordinance on stubble burning and an electricity-related law.
He said the Narendra Modi government is committed to continuing, improving and expanding the procurement process at MSP.
"There should not be any doubt in anyone's mind. Still, if farmers have any worries on that front, we would want to assure them that the new laws do not present any threat to the MSP system," he said.
"Discussions were held in a cordial atmosphere where the union leaders presented their side and the government also gave its views. A few major points of concern among farmers have emerged after the four rounds of talks," he said.
The minister said the government has always maintained that it is fully committed to farmers' welfare and will remain so.
"Farmers and their unions are worried that the new laws will end the APMC system. The government will consider ways to strengthen the APMC framework and it becomes of greater use. As far as the new Acts are concerned, there are provisions for private mandis outside the purview of the APMC. Those private mandis would be set up and we will discuss how there could be a tax parity between these private ones and those set up under the APMC Act," he said.
Tomar said the government will also ensure that all traders are registered for operating outside the APMC mandi system.
"The new Acts also have a provision that any dispute will go to SDM court, but the unions want freedom for going to higher courts. The government has also agreed to discuss and consider this point with an open mind, as unions stressed a lot on this issue," he said.
Meanwhile, government sources also shared several "success stories" of farmer producer organisations in agriculture and allied sector across the country after the new laws came into place.
They said the creation of additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards will help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition, besides supplementing the existing APMC based trade in commodities.