There is an ongoing farmer’s protest against the three farm acts passed by the Indian Parliament in 2020.
Since 26 November, farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting in the national capital. The protest is against recently passed Farm Bills
Which has been described as “anti-farmer laws” by farmer unions.
What are these bills?
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) bill 2020:
- This bill expands the scope of trade areas for farmer produce from select areas to any place of production, collection, and aggregation.
- It removes interstate barriers and allows farmers to sell their products anywhere within or outside the state.
- Allows electronic trading and e-commerce of scheduled farm products.
- Stops state governments to collect any tax, market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading for farmers’ produce conducted outside the Mandies & APMC yards.
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020:
- This bill ensures to protect the farmer’s interest through legal agreement for contract farming.
- This bill creates a framework for contract farming for the sale and purchase of the farm product. Now there will be an agreement between a farmer and a buyer even before the production or rearing of any farm product.
- The bill also provides a three-level dispute settlement mechanism: the conciliation board, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, and Appellate Authority.
Essential Commodities Amendment Bill 2020:
- This is an amendment in the existing essential commodities bill, basically it’s a law that controls the production, supply and distribution of certain commodities.
- This bill allows the centre to regulate food items through essential commodities.
- Requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce be based on price rise.
Why are farmers protesting?
Farmers fear that these bills may sweep off the MSP safety net from their feet. The farmers are also scared that the corporates will twist and turn words to bind them in an unfavourable contract. Their point is, it would be very difficult for a farmer to always understand the terms mentioned in the contract before signing it.
MSP: Minimum Selling Price (MSP) is a guarantee to the farmers that if they are not able to sell their farm products at a better price in the markets (for the covered crops), the government would buy their agricultural produce at a fixed rate.
The farmers are protesting against the three farm bills and calling it anti-farmer acts. But, as per the government:
These reforms/ bills will help make it smoother for the farmers to sell their produce.
The government wants to implement these laws to bring in corporate investment in the form of contracts.
These Acts, assures the farmer of providing a legal framework for them to enter into pre-arranged contracts with buyers including the pricing.
This, the government says, will help the farmers to get better deals and prices for their farm products.