Protesting Indian farmers, who are camping at the borders of Delhi since November 26, 2020, have support from unexpected quarters. Not just Sikhs and alleged Khalistanis living abroad, because the Government would really like people to believe, but even Trump supporting White American farmers seem to believe Indian farmers are right.
The National Herald brought together two Indians, based in California and Chandigarh, to talk about the worldwide impact of massive corporates and ‘free market’ on Agriculture and on farmers. Edited transcript of their hour and a half long conversation are going to be published next week in National Herald on Sunday and on nationalheraldindia.com
While Bedabrata Pain, the California based filmmaker of the national award-winning film Chittagong, is beginning with a documentary on May Day this year on what American farmers need to say about the Indian farm laws, Agriculture Policy expert Devinder Sharma, based in Chandigarh, informs he too has been receiving calls from American farmers who are anxious to seek out out what’s happening in India. What follows are brief excerpts from the conversation by way of a teaser.What we are discussing aren’t farmers’ issue. Food can’t be farmers’ issue alone. it’s everybody’s issue.
Over the previous couple of months because the farmers’ agitation intensified in India, as a concerned Indian I started reading up and performing some research. It struck me that each one the talk about opening up Agriculture to free market, ending MSP or price parity because it was called within the US, contract farming, minimum government control then on were precisely the quite conversations that happened in America about four decades back.
Even the type of words employed by our Prime Minister Modi ji about how big companies are ‘good citizens’ are almost like what Reagan wont to say in USA. So, an equivalent conversations about free market, less regulation, price parity have happened before which is why we called the film reminder .
America has skilled these talking points which India is debating now. What happened then? How did the tiny farmers fared? We thought what better thanks to portray it than capturing the stories of yank farmers and provides a comparative view. that’s how this documentary happened .
Four folks brown people within the whitest of white America, traveling within the cold months of January and February through Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, met farmers who shared with us how the large companies have destroyed small farmers. They were all friendly and warm and were really wanting to share their stories. It seemed they lack a platform to talk , they feel there’s nobody to listen to their voices.
One of the items that hit me the foremost was the accelerating cases of farmers suicide in America. Here we were, thinking America is that the land of opportunities, milk and honey, who could have imagined that American farmers too are committing suicide because they can’t pay their debts?
American farmers are fully conscious of what’s happening in India and are keenly watching how things progress. They sent us messages for the Indian farmers which we might be showcasing in our film, which remains within the editing stage. They regret not having the ability to organise protests back in their time when big changes were happening, and are immensely inspired by the Indian farmers’ movement. We are learning from Indian farmers they said.
We always had WTO, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development , the IMF and other first world institutions telling India what to try to to , but here was a primary world community learning from Indian farmers, that was the foremost heart-warming experience we had.In the mid-80s I started taking interest within the amount of subsidies that rich developed countries were giving to their farmers. We are given to know that the rich countries are so prosperous and their farmers are in such fine condition that we’d like to repeat their model and open up our agriculture to free market.
The reality is that in America and other supposedly rich nations the Free free enterprise has not benefited farmers, particularly the tiny ones. The population of farmers has shrunk severely. Merely one and a half percent of usa citizens are into farming and even then, it’s not a lucrative profession. The agriculture sector is surviving upon massive government subsidies there.
Two years back the chief economist of the US Department of Agriculture said that since the 1960s American farm income has seen a steep decline if you adjust for inflation. Whereas in India we are told that the Free Market agriculture would make farm income go up. If so, I fail to know why has it not gone up in America? Why did price discovery not happen in first world countries? Why does 40% of the typical farm income in America still come from subsidies? It clearly demolishes the argument that markets cause price discovery.
Take the instance of cotton. In 2005 American farmers were getting a subsidy of 4.7 billion dollars to supply crop worth 3.9 billion dollars and since of the subsidies global cotton prices were depressed. As a result, farmers in Africa, India and other countries were priced out. On top of that, America would offer a subsidy of 180 million dollars to the textile industry to shop for this subsidized cotton.
EU provides a subsidy support of 100 billion dollars per annum which forms 57% of the farm income of EU farmers imagine if this subsidy was withdrawn what would happen to the EU farmers. And despite the huge subsidies the agriculture sector in Europe gets, every minute one farmer quits agriculture.