By- Utkarsh
I am a student pursuing Chartered Accountancy and currently I am at Intermediate level. Also, I am pursuing B.Com from Delhi University.

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Farmers' Bills


The three farmer bills introduced by the Indian Government have been in the news for quite a long time now. The Indian Parliament passed three agricultural acts- Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020, Farmer’s Services Act 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020-during its monsoon session culminating on 23 September 2020.

The contentious bills received the President’s sign off on September 27, 2020, amid an uproar by opposition party leaders and farmer groups alike. There have been voices that have come out in support of the acts with some stating that they would unshackle the workforce engaged in the agricultural sector.

The three farm acts: Key Highlights

1.   Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020

This proposed legislation seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) market yards (Mandis).

BENEFITS: -

  •  Promote restriction-free intra-state and inter-state trade of farmer’s produce.
  • Propose a digital and electronic platform for the direct and online trading of farmer’s produce.
  •  Give farmer’s the freedom to trade anywhere outside the state-notified APMC markets.
  •  Prohibit state government to levy fees, cess or any other unnecessary charges.

Points Put on by the Opposition: -

As per opposition parties, this bill will lead to a decrease in the revenue of the government as it will not be able to collect mandi fees if farmers sell the produce outside the notified APMC.


2.   Farmer’s (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020

This act seeks to provide farmers with a structure to engage in contract farming, where farmers can enter into a direct agreement with the buyers for buying their produce at a pre-determined price before the sowing season.

BENEFITS: -

  •  It seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to Sponsors (Entities that may strike agreements with farmers to buy agricultural produce).
  •  A modern tech and better-quality inputs will lead to a cost-cutting in marketing and give a boost to the income of the farmers.

Points Put on by the Opposition: -

As per the opposition parties and the farmers, this law is framed to suit the big corporates who are looking forward to the dominance of the Indian food and agricultural business. This will reduce the negotiating power of the farmers.


3.   THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2020

This bill is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act, 1955. It basically seeks to restrict the powers of the government with respect to production, supply and distribution of certain key commodities.

Some Exclusions from the essential commodities: -

  • Cereals
  • Pulses
  • Oilseeds
  • Edible Oils
  • Onion
  • Potatoes

The government can impose some stock holding limits on these commodities only in some special circumstances like war, famine and natural calamity of grave nature.

BENEFITS: -

  •  Its main aim and benefit are to attract private investment/FDI into the farm sector as well as bringing stability in the prices of commodities.
  •  It removes the fear of private investors of regulatory influence in their business operations.
  •  It gives freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply agricultural produce.

Points Put on by the Opposition: -

Big companies will have the freedom to stock commodities and this will lead to the terms dictating the farmers.

These three bills are to ensure that the farmers get a better price for their produce by reducing the number of intermediaries in the process of buy and sell of agricultural produce. As per the government, adding these three Acts will increase competition in the market and will promote private investment which, in turn, will help in the development of the farm infrastructure and generate employment.


REASON FOR FEAR OF FARMERS: -

The farmers' main reason for fear is the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill. The farmers fear that this bill would end the current system of Open-ended FCI procurement. They think that the Food Corporation of India and other central agencies will shut down the annual purchases of wheat and rice.

Even after the Central government’s continuous assurance that MSP will continue the farmers believe it as being deceptive.


MY OPINION ON WHETHER THE FARM BILLS ARE GAME CHANGER OR ANTI-FARMER: -

As a disclaimer, these are my personal views and should not be confused as the viewpoint of a particular type of people or caste.

The three farm bills are capable enough to remove the intermediaries from the market and giving the farmers an option to sell their produce between states than in notified APMCs only, thereby increasing the competition and the private investments. So, as per me the farmer’s bills are for the betterment of the farmers in long run and should be adopted and the Government should issue a guidance note or a clarification on their policy of not abolishing the MSP policies.

 


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