The Central Government in 2017, released model Farming acts. Afterward, the Standing Committee on Agriculture (2018-19) observed that some states are not implementing the provisions of the model acts completely, specifically those which deal with the marketing aspect of agriculture which also includes APMCs (Agriculture Produces Market Committees). In 2019 a committee consisting of seven Chief Ministers was set up in the month of July to discuss better implementation and amendments required to be made in the model acts. As per the discussion, the central government gives assent to draft three ordinances (Farm Bills) in the first week of Jun 2020, and the bill becomes act on 27 September 2020 after getting assent from the President.
The following three reforms are as follows:
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
- This act basically introduces the concept of Private buyers for the Agriculture produce of the farmers. This Act gives the option to the farmer to sell their produce outside the APMC regulated market. (APMCs are Government Controlled Marketing Area or generally known as Mandi).
- The government’s stand on this act is that APMC is an outdated institution; meant to protect the farmer but has now become his oppressor; a monopoly cartel has been made there which fixes the price at very low, which results in distress sales.
Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farms Services Act, 2020
- This Act provides to set up a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts. The Farmers and an induct buyer can make a deal.
- Also, this act provides for a specific mechanism for dispute resolution which according to the government safeguards the interest of farmers and their land from the ordained buyer.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
- The main provision of the amendments made is to allow intra-state and inter-state trade of the farmer’s produce.
- Further, it removes Foodstuff such as potato, cereals, pulses, onion, edible oilseeds, and oils from the list of essential commodities. And, thus removes stockholding limit on such items except under “extraordinary circumstances”, as defined under the act itself.
- Also, the act prohibits the state government from levying any market fee, cess, or levy outside APMC areas.
Some Farmers and some other political party labeled these acts as Anti-Farmer or Corporate Friendly.
The main reason behind the agitation is that there is no Statutory support in the bills for the MSP. It is also a fact for the distress among the farmers of Punjab and Haryana as nearly 89% of the Rice produced by the Farmers in Punjab is procured by the government. And, in Haryana, it is 85%.
It is a well-established fact that Rice is a water-intensive crop and Farmers from areas with water shortage too grows it as there is an MSP assured in the end. A continuous circle of the wheat-rice growing system in North0western plains of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh has led to the exhaustion of groundwater to a large extent and reduces the soil quality as well which posed a serious threat to sustainability according to a government study.
Along with this, these farm acts are also supposed to encourage farmers to deal with corporate. And, the farmers have a trust issue with the corporate.
Meanwhile, the Kisan Unions have announced to block all the entry points at Delhi borders.
Along with all the criticism by farmers and the political party of India, the overseas, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes the side of the farmers. However, according to Times of India, Canada at the WTO was one of the most strident critics of India’s MSP and other agriculture Policies.
Read more blogs @ advocatetanwar.com