What are new agriculture laws farmers are protesting against.

The President gave his nod on September 27 to the three argumentative agriculture Bills that were previously passed by the Parliament. The opposition have termed these reforms as “anti farmer moves”. The debate can go on whether new bills are beneficial for the country farmers or are not but why did opposition not oppose the bill in the parliament rather are creating a chaotic situation now. Nevertheless are new bills bringing negative efficiency (nefficiency) in country or not, is debatable.

The Centre has issued a fresh call for farmers to end their agitation and join the next round of talks. But farmers’ rejected the Centre’s proposals, the farm leaders reacted to the new appeal by saying they would continue their protests for rescindment of the laws. While congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked “how many more sacrifices will farmers have to make to get the laws repealed?” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government is committed to help farmers. He said the latest farm laws would give farmers access to new markets and technology and help upsurge investments in the agricultural sector. Agri reforms aimed at benefiting farmers, need investment from private sector PM Modi also said at FICCI AGM

The protests of farmers have reached its 3rd week and people all across the nation have been joining the movement while several others across India are in favor of the bills and say that most of the farmers have been misguided by the opposition and a situation of fear and anarchy is being created while those who are protesting the bills are asking for its reversal as soon as possible. Given highly tensed conditions across Delhi NCR borders it won’t be wrong to say that somewhere the government should talk directly to the farmers and not via TV or Radio but one to many. Ownership, accountability are few pillars of a stable government. Most of the youth across the globe are supporting the movement. But are they not mistaken or diverted from the actual problems of the country? That’s the question one must ask. We don’t want people of India to fight for something that’s good for them or be muted over something that’s bad for them. So here are the fundamentals one should know before people decide to join the protests or oppose them.

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Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on December 11 said that the government is ready to make reforms in new farm laws after talks. Tomar said, “Laws made by the Govt have been formed after a lot of deliberation – to bring a change in lives of farmers, to remove the injustice that was being done to them for years. It was done to ensure that farmers could live better lives and indulge in beneficial agriculture.

What are the Farm Bills 2020?
The Indian Parliament passed three agricultural bills in Quarter 3, September 2020 to reform the way agricultural produce is promoted. The three bills were made into acts with the President’s affirmation. The bills are as follows.

  1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
    a. It is an act of the Indian Government that authorizes intra and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market (mandis) and other markets notified under state APMC Acts.
    b. The Lok Sabha approved the bills on 17th September 2020, and Rajya Sabha on 20th September 2020.
    c. Prior to the 2020 legislation, agricultural trade in India could only be conducted in APMC market (mandis). This Act, however, allows trading outside mandis—such as farm gates, factory premises, cold storages etc. and prohibits state governments from imposing any market fee on farmers, traders, and electronic-trading platforms for trading the produce of farmers in such areas. The Act seeks to enable profitable prices for farmers through competitive alternative trading channels in order to promote barrier-free inter and intra-state trade of agriculture goods.
  2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
    a. It is an act of the Indian Government that makes a national framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a customer before the production or rearing of any farm produce.
    b. The Lok Sabha approved the bills on 17th September 2020, and Rajya Sabha on 20th September 2020.
    c. The Government proclaims that the Act will help and protect farmers engaging with agriculture businesses, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce by a mutually-agreed rewarding price framework in a just and transparent manner through a contract.
  3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
    a. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 allows the central government to regulate the supply of certain essential food items (including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, potato etc.) only under extraordinary circumstances (such as war and famine). Stock limits may be imposed on agricultural produce only if there is a steep price rise or war like conditions including natural calamity, pandemic etc.
    b. The Lok Sabha approved the bills on 17th September 2020, and Rajya Sabha on 20th September 2020

Why Protests?

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The farmers are protesting the three farm acts and are calling it anti-farmer move while the government has always upheld that the new laws are for reformation of old unjust policies which will help make it easier for the farmers to sell their produce. The government wants to bring in effect these laws to bring in corporate investment in the form of contracts. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 assures the farmer of providing a structure which will bind farmer and buyer into a legal contract including the pricing. Thus, the government says, will help the farmers cut a healthier deal.

The farmers are alarmed, terrified that the corporates will tweak the agriculture laws in accordance with them and the legal contracts will not be fair as poor farmers will always restrain from contracts. This will lead to unfavorable contract. Most of the farmers in India deal in cash, they do not have so much of legal know how, thus imposing such laws will bring them troubles instead of wealth.

The government said that the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 allows the farmers to do interstate or intrastate selling of their production, to be more clear a farmer can sell his produce any where in the country or online and state will not interfere, seems quite a deal but the farmers are scared that this might also lead to corporatization of the entire agricultural market and the prices can be taken up or down by the corporates. Farmers thus will have no say in such scenarios. Also the state governments of Punjab and Haryana are supporting the protests as they have their own agenda of losing crores of taxes which are levied on farmers’ produce and no one wants to lose money.

The new bills also gives a wrong impression to farmers that their trade will be unnecessarily restricted by allowing ‘sell anywhere’ policy of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020. As per farmers most of the time they are dependent on buyers inside mandis for emergency monetary help as they cant go to the bank all the time and fulfill the procedures of providing the documents etc. for a small loan. According to them this will be a blow to their normal life. While the government is all about making the lives of farmers smooth, these policies are bringing nothing but chaos till date.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 has been met with wide criticism from farmers all over the country (particularly Punjab and Haryana) mainly under the argument that, without any regulation, farmers interests will be overlooked and the act is corporate friendly as they can amend the laws and legal contracts as per their will and intelligence. In such a case a how can a farmer move to the court when the crops are ready for harvesting. Funny but true.
All over the country sports persons are returning the awards bestowed upon them for their notable performances, politicians are resigning from their positions, students, NRI are going on fast, protesting.

Overall the Government is trying to do some good but over the years people don’t trust the system and how can they, when this system is doing no good to them since long. A farmer cant fight or his crops will suffer. People of country will suffer. Laws are their to protect them from injustice, corruption but who follows them, over the years farmers have always paid, and if something is to be implemented then government needs to clean the system first. All of a sudden acts cant be implemented, even if they are good for the people, but who will deal with the fear of the people, Government should take step to send their candidates to each and every constituency and talk to farmers, satisfy them, answer them help them understand, tell the pros and cons.

Time to take up issues of marginal farmers | ORF

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