Justice for Farmers: A Fair Price and Freedom from Uncertainty

The Farmers of India are our Annadatas - our providers who sustain each one of us. The Congress firmly believes that the nation must support the men and women who feed it. Our guarantees for Kisan NYAY will provide farmers a fair price for their crop, and provide them with certainty and security.

Agriculture in India is in crisis, particularly affecting the 90% of farmers who are small and marginal. Farming is inherently risky, since farmers have to choose between a wide range of crops with no guarantee of the yield or prices. The last decade has been worse, with that 30 farmers are committing suicide every day due to volatile crop prices, natural disasters, and neglectful policies which have reduced farmers' incomes and forced them into debt.

This government has only added to farmers' burdens. PM Modi promised to double farmers' income, but instead has doubled their debt. He brought the 3 Black Farm Laws which aimed to dilute Minimum Support Price (MSP) protection, destroy the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of large corporations. When farmers protested, they were met with violence, tear gas, and labelled 'terrorists'. The BJP has demonstrated that they neither respect or value farmers - instead they have created a cycle of suffering, attacking them from all sides.

The Congress' five guarantees for Kisan Nyay will break this cycle of suffering by boosting farmers' income, lowering their costs and reducing their risks.

Today, the fluctuating prices of crops is the biggest risk which farmers face, often causing losses. When prices fall, small and marginal farmers can neither store their harvest or transport it farther away where prices might be higher - they are forced to sell their crops at a loss. To solve this problem, the Swaminathan Committee recommended setting a Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 50% more than the cost of production.

The BJP refuses to guarantee this fair price to farmers, despite their promises during the farm law protests. As a result, the current MSP is lower (e.g. 25% lower for paddy), covers in effect only rice and wheat, and is effective only in a few states where crops are procured. To cover up this refusal, the government has spread propaganda that MSP is unaffordable, despite estimates by expert organisations such as CRISIL that MSP would cost just 0.4% of the 2023 budget.

The Congress party believes every farmer deserves a fair price for their crop, and protection from uncertain prices. Therefore, under Fasal ka Sahi Daam we guarantee an MSP with legal status according to the Swaminathan Committee formula.

The second biggest risk which farmers face is from natural disasters like untimely rains, droughts, or pest attacks which destroy their crops. While the government cannot prevent natural disasters, it can protect farmers by compensating them. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhim Yojana (PMFBY), meant to insure farmers, has proved instead to be a money-making scheme for insurance companies. During the first 5 years of PMFBY, insurance companies made a profit of over Rs 40,000 crore. Meanwhile, farmers still are owed over Rs 2,761 crores. The Congress' guarantee is Bhugtan ka Seedha Transfer - direct payment within 30 days to farmers' bank accounts in cases of crop loss.

Farmers' income is also hurt by the BJP Government's arbitrary trade policies, which ban exports which could give farmers higher prices, while favouring imports which hurt their income. Over 8 years, India's agricultural trade surplus has reduced by a third - from $28 billion to $18 billion. The Congress will reverse this farmer-hostile policy. Under Sahi Aayat-Niryaat Niti we guarantee to create and implement an import-export policy for agriculture that prioritises protecting farmers' interests.

In addition, farmers are burdened by high taxes. The BJP imposed a GST on agriculture-related products, as high as 28% in some cases. Fertilisers attract a 12% GST, pesticides a 16% GST, and irrigation a 10% GST. Input costs for farmers are already high enough. The Congress Party guarantees GST-Mukt Kheti - we will amend the GST system to exempt agricultural goods from tax.

Farmers cannot endure unfair prices, delays in crop compensation, and costs rising above earnings. They are taking back-breaking loans to cover their basic needs and the costs of the next year's harvest. The BJP's failures have forced farmers to take on far more loans in its tenure, with the total outstanding debt increasing about 2.5 times to Rs. 23.44 lakh crore. However, farmers have not seen a single rupee waived off, even as Rs 16 lakh crore of corporate loans have been waived. The Congress guarantees a permanent end to this injustice by creating a Karza Maafi Aayog - a Standing Farm Loan Waiver Commission to determine the amount of loan waiver required.

The Congress party is committed to restoring the respect and pride that farmers deserve. Our guarantees will help farmers cultivate their crops with the assurance of a fair price, no taxes, imports and exports which help them, and on-time compensation if needed. We will end the cycle of suffering once and for all.

Our Farmers support the country. The country deserves a government that supports its farmers.