Hyderabad: Tens of thousands of small and marginal farmers in Telangana dependent for their livelihoods on dairy, poultry, or grow cotton, soybean and maize, will be among those who will be hit hard if India signs a trade deal with the United States on agriculture, claimed leaders of the Telangana state chapter of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee on Wednesday in the city.
The two countries are widely expected to sign an agreement during visit of US President Donald Trump to India in three days, which if it happens, might open up Indian markets for US dairy and farm produce.
The AIKSCC leaders told reporters that small and marginal farmers in the state and rest of the country “will face higher losses and go into debt if this trade agreement is signed.”
Cheaper US products will flood India
They said that dairy and other farm products producers in the US are mostly large corporations and agribusinesses, who in addition to the unfair advantage of huge scale, also receive huge subsidies from the American government.
“Indian farmers receive a negative subsidy of -14 per cent because of government policies. On the other hand, US farmers get more than 10 per cent positive subsidy,” Kiran Kumar Vissa, AIKSCC leader, alleged.
Two months ago, when India was about to sign the mega free trade deal RCEP with China and other South-East Asian countries, farmers’ protests forced the government to withdraw, Mr Vissa said.
Indian farmers are worried that the US government is pushing for increasing its export of dairy and poultry products into India and seeking reduction of import tariffs on many agricultural products, including apples, almonds and maize, cotton, soybean and wheat. This would result in cheaper imports, crashing demand and market prices for Indian farmers’ produce. The Telangana committee of AIKSCC announced that protests would be undertaken against the reported trade deal with the US, by member farmer organizations in various districts on February 24 and 25 during Trump’s India visit.