The Modi led BJP government in centre passed 3 agricultural bills in Lok Sabha, for which there is tremendous opposition. Even parties aligned with the BJP are opposing it. The government is being accused of being anti-farmer. The current ruling coalition’s senior minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned in protest against them. Farmers are opposing these bills by taking to the streets. In such a situation, we try to understand what the three Bills are and why they are being opposed.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
WHAT IS IT?
The purpose of the proposed law is to allow farmers to sell their produce outside the notified Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) ie mandis. The goal of this bill is to render remunerative prices to farmers for their agricultural produce through competitive alternative trade channels. Under this law, farmers will not be charged any cess or fees on the sale of their produce.
This will provide new options for the farmers. They will reduce the cost of selling their produce, helping them get a better price. With this, farmers of those areas where production is higher will manage to get better prices by selling their agricultural produce in other deficient regions.
If farmers sell their produce outside the Registered Agricultural Produce Market Committee, the states will suffer a loss of revenue as they will not be able to receive ‘mandi duty fee’. If the entire agricultural trade goes out of the mandis, the commission agents will be distressed. But, more importantly, farmers and opposition parties fear that this may eventually lead to the end of the minimum support price (MSP) -based procurement system and increase exploitation by private companies.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
WHAT IS IT?
Under this proposed law, farmers will be empowered to contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or big retailers to sell their agricultural produce at pre-determined prices.
With this, the risk that the farmer poses for his crop will go to his buyer with whom he has contracted. Not only it gives farmer’s access to modern technology and better inputs but it also boosts farmer’s income by reducing marketing costs.
Farmers’ organizations and opposition parties say that this law has been made in line with the big industrialists who wish to dominate the Indian food and agribusiness. This will make the bargaining power of the farmers fragile. And moreover, big private companies, exporters, wholesalers and processors can get an edge in the agriculture sector.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020
WHAT IS IT?
This proposed law proposes to remove agricultural produce like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onions and potatoes from the list of essential commodities under normal circumstances except in ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity and as such The limit of stores applicable to goods will also be eliminated.
It aims to attract private investment / FDI in agriculture as well as bring price stability.
This will allow big companies to have storage of these agricultural commodities, so that they will be able to impose their will on the farmers.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the minimum support price (MSP) of crops will remain as is for the farmers. Furthermore, the proposed legislation does not violate the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) laws of the states. These bills are meant to ensure that farmers get better prices for their produce without being subject to the rules of mandis. He said that these bills will ensure that farmers get a better price for their produce, this will increase competition and along with private investment will develop infrastructure in the agriculture sector and create employment opportunities.