Hey folks! let’s talk about farm bill and Why are farmers protesting?
For months now we have been reading and listing about the new farm law that was passed in September this year, yet majority of us have no clue of what is this new law or why are farmers protesting. Let me help you out here to know more about farm bill.
On 27th of September president Kovind gave his assent to the ‘ controversial ‘ Agricultural Bills (2020).
What is Farm Bill?
Farm bill consisted of 3 different acts.
1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020.
This act intends to create a national framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production or rearing of any farm produces.
In simple words contract farming which was only verbal in nature earlier would now be regulated under this act. Terms of the contract like time period and pricing would be pre-determined before the harvest.
This would be highly beneficial for small scale farmers in a long run
2- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
This act is seen as one of the most important reforms in history of Indian agriculture. Until now the farmers were only permitted to sell their harvest at APMCs (Mandis), but under this reform now the farmer would have multiple open channels and markets to make a deal.
This reform would connect the producer i.e. farmers directly to the consumers without involvement of any parasitic middlemen to hike or manipulate the costing.
Now the farm Market can go electronic or directly to major MNCs for a deal.
3- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
This act amended the essential commodities act of 1955 under which certain cereals, pulses, vegetables, drugs and fuels were protected from hording or black marketing in order to have an adequate supply in the market.
Now under the new act government will control the list of essential commodities, government can fix stocking quantity and MRPs for these commodities according to the need.
A common question that would arise after the first read of this transcript would be ” If these laws are meant to protect and empower farmers, then why the protests? “
Why are farmers protesting?
From what I understand farmers in India are concerned about three major changes unfolding with these acts.
1. Monopoly of APMCs (Mandis) will end and Market will be open for corporate entities, thus making the farm Market vulnerable to manipulation and influence by huge MNCs.
2. This law nowhere talks about MSP (minimum support price) which is one of the bedrocks for Indian agricultural system. Farmers feel threatened that with these new changes and corporate market MSP practice would be discontinued and the price of their products would be controlled and rigged by Corporate players.
3. There are several loopholes in these laws which can worsen the already pitiful condition of Indian farmers. For example, no dispute resolving provision is mentioned in the law and if any dispute is to resolved farmers are at the mercy of civil servants and not the judiciary.
While these are legitimate concerns and loopholes in the law, we cannot ignore that this law does answer the main issue of farmers income and middleman crises.
Thus, the only way to resolve this dispute is by diplomacy and finding a solution between both the extremes.
Both the government and farmers union are ready to take a seat at the table to discuss this out.
While the next round of talks is held on 9th this month to say that we might have a solution very soon will be too optimistic.