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FARMER BILLS, 2020

Farmers across the country protested the passing of three agriculture and farmer related Bills. The Parliament, however, went ahead and passed the following three Bills in question:

  1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill

WHAT ARE THE BILLS? WHAT ARE THEIR IMPLICATIONS

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill

This Bill:

  • Allows farmers to trade intra-state and inter-state in premises other than the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis (marketplace for farmers’ produce),
  • Provides for the electronic transaction of farmers’ produce, and
  • Prohibits the levying of market fees or cess by state governments on premises outside the APMC.
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Farmer working in his field

The main concern about this Bill is that farmers’ rights and their interests may be undermined is they were to pursue transactions outside of the APMC. This also brings significant doubt on the existence of minimum support prices in such a system. 

  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill

This Bill:

  • Allows the forging of contracts or agreements between a farmer and a buyer before the production of a crop or rearing of livestock.
  • Demands that the prices of the produce and livestock be clearly mentioned in the agreement.
  • Provides for a conciliatory board that will resolve conflicts if any arise. It also states the process of dispute resolution if the board fails to do so.

Even though the bill provides for conflict resolution, it does not specify the methods or ways of price fixation which implies that private corporations may take advantage of this and fix prices that prove to be exploitative for the farmer.

  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill
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The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill

This Bill

  • Allows the central government to regulate the supply of food items (grains, pulses, onions, potatoes, oils, etc) only under extraordinary circumstances such as war, famine, unusual price hike, and natural calamities.
  • Imposes that the stock limit of agricultural produces must be based on price rise.

Critics of this Bill’s voice that the Bill may provide leeway for private corporations pursuing a profit-making maneuver to hoard farm produce when prices are lower and sell them when prices are higher. This in turn will lead to the market domination of those corporations and significant loss for small farmers.

Proponents say that these Bills would revolutionize the Indian farming and agricultural sector. They would help the farmers become independent and self-sufficient and help them progress without the support of the government. Farmers would learn more about how the market works and small-scale farmers would benefit from the provisions. The Bills will also lead them to search for better prospects of income other than the government.

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Farmers’ agitation

In any case, amongst much uproar and protests by farmers including the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, the three Bills were ultimately passed in the Parliament. 

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