Amid the strong protests from opposition members, the Rajya Sabha has passed two of the three farm bills. Moreover, there’s a huge hue and cry going on regarding this new legislation and farmers came out to street to oppose these farm bills 2020. While on the other hand, Maharashtra and Kanpur farmers have accepted the new farm bill 2020.
What is farm bill 2020
The three bills that were passed by the Lok Sabha are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.
What are the benefits of this bill
According to the government, the bills would transform the agriculture sector which will raise the farmers’ income. It also promises doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and the Centre said that the Bills will make the farmer independent of government controlled markets and fetch them a better price for their produce.
Moreover, the government said that these Bills aims to create a system in which the farmers and traders can sell their purchase outside the Mandis. It also encourages intra-state trade and this proposes to reduce the cost of transportation.
The farm bill 2020 aims to enable farmers to engage with agri-business companies, retailers, exporters for service and sale of produce while giving the farmer access to modern technology.
It also aims to benefits the small and marginal farmers with less than five hectares of land. The Bill also will remove items such as cereals and pulses form the list of essential commodities and attract FDI.
Disadvantages of this bill
The farmers say that they are apprehensive about getting Minimum Support Price (MSP). For their produce and also concerned about the upper hand of the agri-businesses and big retailers in negotiations. Moreover, it may lead to reduce the benefits of small farmers as companies will dictate the price.
What does the law say about MSP
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill does not give any statutory backing to MSP. Forget making it a legal right, there isn’t even a mention of either “MSP” or “procurement” in the Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament last week.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said the new legislation has “nothing to do with MSP”. Instead, its objective is simply to grant farmers and traders the freedom of choice to sell and buy agricultural produce outside the premises of APMC mandis. MSP and procurement, according to him, are entirely separate issues: “MSP was not part of any law before. Nor is it part of any law today.”
Why farmers are protesting about this bill
The issue is that it’s unclear how this will play out in reality. For one, farmers can already sell to private players in many states but what these bills do is offer a national framework.
But farmers are mainly concerned that this will eventually lead to the end of wholesale markets and assured prices, leaving them with no back-up option. That is, if they are not satisfied with the price offered by a private buyer, they cannot return to the mandi or use it as a bargaining chip during negotiations.
“First, farmers will feel attracted towards these private players, who will offer a better price for the produce. The government mandis will pack up meanwhile and after a few years, these players will start exploiting the farmers.
The government has said the mandi system will continue, and they will not withdraw the Minimum Support Price (MSP) they currently offer. But farmers are suspicious.
The protests have been the strongest in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana state, where the mandi system is strong and the productivity is high – so only the government has been able to buy that volume of produce at a set price.