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Farm Bills: All You Need To Know

There are reservations regarding each of these bills, in addition to insecurity around Minimum Support Price, the potential threat of a corporate takeover of Indian farming, hoarding, black marketing, and undermining the seed security. First of all, let us look at these bills one by one:

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With 50% of India’s workforce engaged in agriculture, India is highly dependent on the farming sector. However, three bills recently tabled in the parliament have spurred up insecurity regarding the economic well-being of farmers. With rising protests along the borders of Delhi by the farmer's unions of Punjab and Haryana, this issue has come to the forefront raising concern about the real root cause of the ongoing agitation.

There are reservations regarding each of these bills, in addition to insecurity around Minimum Support Price, the potential threat of a corporate takeover of Indian farming, hoarding, black marketing, and undermining the seed security. First of all, let us look at these bills one by one:

Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020:

The bill, through Clauses 3 and 4, gives freedom to the farmer to exercise option between intra-state or inter-state trade in areas outside the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandis, and sell directly to the corporates or institutional buyers. Previously, the farmer was able to sell his produce at the designated mandi, which was bought by an authorized middleman through a competitive bidding process. 

The farmers have expressed their concern about corporates having more bargaining power and say in the pricing of their produce. This way the farmer will lose out on the existing MSP and their income. With small and marginal farmers comprising 86% of our agricultural workforce, having less than 2 hectares of land, this concern is uppermost in their minds. Further, all farmers do not have a facility to store and transport grain across state borders. The other group which is adversely impacted include the accountants and middlemen working for the mandis. 

The government has issued a clarification that the MSP will remain, to allay the fear of farmers. The centre assured they will include a legal mechanism for the appeal against any discrepancies in the bill.

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020′

This bill will enable farmers to enter into direct contracts with agri-firms and exporters, to purchase bulk grain at a pre-decided price. The farmers are worried this will eliminate the government from the negotiation process, leaving them vulnerable. Their present demand is to link MSP with contract prices. 

The government has agreed to look into this concern of the farmers. Reassuring the farmers, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Thursday said “the Modi government was "sensitive" about the demands made by farmers and has addressed their main concerns in a "transparent" manner. He also said that most of the farmers were "satisfied" with the steps taken by the central government, and added that their interests were "safe and secure" in its hands.” However, these claims are rejected by the farmer unions, who have refused to settle for anything less than scrapping the three bills.

Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

This act allows agents to store articles freely, without fear of prosecution for hoarding. The farmers raised concern about price fluctuation from hoarding, which can affect the competitive prices they would get otherwise. The farmers have retaliated and declared they will block all roadways leading to Delhi, starting from the Delhi-Jaipur highway on the 12th of December if their demands are not looked into. 

The government has declined to scrap the bill but agreed to address the genuine concern expressed by the farmers. With the ongoing tussle between the government and the farmers, a common meeting ground is not in sight. 


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farm bills 2020 Farm Bill farmers agriculture