The warning was issued by leaders of about 3,000 rice farmers who gathered at the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) yesterday to protest against a call by a group of its lecturers for the Constitution Court to scrap the programme.
The lecturers' group has petitioned the court to call a halt to the pledging, claiming that it violates the constitution which promotes free trade and prohibits the state from competing in businesses with the private sector.
The farmers lambasted the academics for their move and accused them of being manipulated as a political tool against the government.
Protest leader Khwanchai Mahachuenjai, who is president of the Samtum tambon administration organisation in Ayutthaya, said the pledging scheme helped free farmers from massive debts and improve their lives.
The farmers who joined yesterday's protest came from the Central Plains, the West, the East and the South.
Mr Khwanchai said the group would intensify their protests at the institute later unless its academics call off their opposition to rice pledging.
A group of red-shirt protesters also rallied at Government House yesterday to support the government's rice scheme and later joined the farmers at Nida.
About 5,000 rice farmers from Suphan Buri, Ang Thong, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya and Chai Nat rallied at the provincial hall of Suphan Buri yesterday in support of pledging and denounced the move by the Nida academics.
About 200 rice farmers from Chiang Mai and Lamphun staged a similar protest at the Chiang Mai provincial hall to demand Nida academics withdraw their request for the Constitution Court to rule on the scheme.
Phetchaburi senator Sumol Sutawiriyawat said the academics filed their complaint with the court because the government has wasted 400-500 billion baht on the rice scheme in the 2011-2012 crop season as it set the pledging rate too high.
Appointed senator Paibul Nititawan said the high rice pledging price should cover only small-scale farmers and the government should set another rate equal to the market price for large-scale businessmen involved in the rice trade.
As the government's pledging price is higher than the market price, the senator said that landlords were reclaiming their paddy fields from small-scale rice farmers who were lessees.
He said the landlords wanted to grow rice by themselves and cash in on the pledging money and this would cause problems for small farmers.
Opposition Democrat MP Warong Detkitwikrom yesterday dismissed Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom's statement that only 4 million tonnes of rice remained in the government's stocks, which had previously amounted to 14 million tonnes.
He said the government actually only sold about 286,600 tonnes of rice and 34,300 tonnes of broken rice from its 2011-2012 crop season stocks.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday insisted the rice pledging scheme would continue to help farmers, and without it, rice prices would tumble.
She assured that her government could sell off the rice in its stocks.
The premier admitted the pledging scheme would cause some losses to the government but said raising incomes of farmers would stimulate the economy.Mr Boonsong said the government would continue to stage bidding contests to sell rice from its stocks and even if quotations from potential buyers were too low, the government could keep the rice for food security.
The cabinet yesterday decided to proceed with the pledging programme for the 2012-2013 crop season. It plans to spend 405 billion baht to accept 26 million tonnes of rice under the scheme in the upcoming season.
The government expects 15 million tonnes of rice will come from the main crop and 11 million more from the second. Pledging will cost the government 240 billion baht for the main crop and 165 billion for the second crop.
The government plans to borrow 150 billion baht for its spending and hopes revenues from rice sales will make up for the remainder of the pledging costs.
The Commerce Ministry expects to raise 85 billion baht from the sale of government rice this year and 175 billion baht more from sales next year.