Farm Bills 2020 are a new set of measures that the government passed in Lok Sabha on September 17, 2020. The citizens of India, however, did not receive it with open arms. The reason is the farmers are not as facilitated by the Bills as the government thinks. The bill’s name is The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. It claims to benefit the farmers by easing the produce’s travel and elimination of the middlemen. However, due to the farmers’ already poor state with low income, this Bill offers way less than it intends to.
What are the newly introduced Farm Bills 2020?
The new bills have three ordinances, all of which have different aims and motives directed towards the farmers. The three ordinances are:
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020. This ordinance allows inter state and intra state trade of the farmers’ produce. The state governments are prohibited from levying any market fees, cess, or duties of any kind outside APMC areas.
- The Farmers Agreement Ordinance. This ordinance offers a contractual agreement between a farmer and a buyer. The contract will follow before the production and rearing of any crop.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. This puts the central government as the sole authority to regulate the supply of certain food items under extraordinary contingencies. It can also put a limit on the stock of the agricultural produce if the market has marked high inflation.
According to the Lok Sabha, these ordinances aim at increasing the availability of buyers for farmers’ produce and increased transparency to the farmers about the market rules. They seek to remove the hassles on farmers and traders. These drawbacks refrain their knowledge rights, permit interstate commerce, and give electronic markets a legal provision.
Why are people opposing the ordinances?
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are on the roads showing their angry protest against the new Bill. They are on a warpath against the Center. One of the BJP’s oldest ally, Shiromani Akali Dal, also took a step back from the association with the Central government. It claimed that the party will never do anything outside of the farmers’ interest. Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from her position as the Minister of Food Processing Industries. However, the viability and honesty behind her move are also questioned. It is reported that she was pretty quiet when the Union government was discussing them and finally passing them.
The ordinances are controversial at many points. The first law that proclaims to facilitate trade and commerce puts the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) as the sole authority over the agricultural trade. Secondly, the second ordinance removes the hold of the farmers over their own matter because it puts the bureaucracy system, at the role of dispute solving, which is never in the interest of the farmers. thirdly, the measure which altered the Essential commodities provision takes the arhtiyas from the market. Putting it all theoretically just like the Lok Sabha did, does not make it look that bad. So, why are the farmers against them?
The farmers are protesting these “pro-farmer” or “farmer amputating” bills because they fear that their benefit of Minimum Support Price will not give them anything anymore. To answer this, PM Modi said that the opposition parties are misleading the farmers and giving them falsified information. However, farmers feel that the MSP sustains them but if they don’t get it, it will take their manna that they get once in a while.
Who is opposing the Farm Bills 2020?
The farmers fall at the lower end of the hierarchy. They are led by more influential businessmen and politicians who stand at gaining from the agriculture. They include arhtiyas or middlemen who also serve as money lenders to the common farmer. The state governments also refute the Farm Bills and shun their importance realizing the effect thy will ave on the state revenue. The Congress state government of Punjab, Aam Admi Party, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Kisan Union, and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). All of them believe that the bills will offer benefits only to big corporal houses, rather than the common farmer that the government claims to intend the bills toward.
The reason why middlemen are opposing is that commission agents earn a truckload of money through the trade of farmers’ produce. The state governments stand on the flip side because Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) will fail after the implementation of Farm Bills 2020.
How is farmers’ opposition valid?
Taking all the influential giants aside, if we only talk about the future of the farmers, there is a justification as to why their protests are valid. Minimum Support Prices or floor price may continue as PM Narendra Modi said. However, other than that, the electronic market facility is something that only organizations and associations can learn and teach further. farmers, on their own, do not stand at the liberty of educating themselves and leading their independent trade. The market which the bills will create need efficient transport facilities, factors of production, better roads, and electricity supply in abundance.
The open-ended procurement that is in danger also poses a concerning matter for farmers if their stock is in surplus. The new laws basically change the established agricultural economics. The law of maximum price legislation is at risk of rearrangement. There are many questions like what if the farmers get the MSP or floor price but the government does not purchase the buffer stock? What if the farmers do not understand how the new dispute settlement system works? What if the new farmer producer organizations for electronic trade become the new middlemen or commission agents that do the same that arhtiyas are doing now in offline trading?
On September 20, 2020, the Rajya Sabha will decide what will prevail. No matter what happens, our sole hope is that the bread sower and reaper that is on the roads right now are solaced that the government will not do anything to further facilitate farmer suicide.