Uproar over Farm Bills 2020: What these bills contain and why the opposition — Here’s all you need to know

IANS
  • Lok Sabha passed two contentious farmer bills on September 17.
  • The government argued that these measures will free farmers from the existing government-controlled markets.
  • Farmers, on the other hand, say these bill would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave the farming community at the "mercy" of big corporates
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Hundreds of farmers in India are protesting against three agricultural bills — that were recently passed in the Parliament — for some weeks now. The protests erupted in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana after the government decided to introduce three agricultural bills in Lok Sabha.

Farmers blocked major highways in parts of Punjab and Haryana on September 16 to demand that the proposed laws should not be pursued in Parliament.

However, all three bills were passed in Lok Sabha despite massive protests. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Akali Dal's lone minister in the Narendra Modi government, came out in support of the farmers and resigned from the Union Cabinet to protest the farm bills.

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Three bills aimed at the transformation of agriculture in the country and raising farmers' income were introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 14 to replace ordinances promulgated on June 5.

Here is a quick look at what these bills propose and what are the main concerns raised by farmers and opposition parties —

  1. 'The Farmers' Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill'
Provisions The concerns
To provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom to sell and purchase products outside ‘mandis’ State governments will not be able to get ‘mandi fee’ if farmers sell their purchases to private players
To encourage inter-state and intra-state trade. The bill is against minimum support price procurement system
Reducing marketing/transportation cost The role of ‘commission agent’ is eliminated if farmers trade outside mandis

  1. 'The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill'
Provisions The concerns
To provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.Farmers in a contract farming arrangement may find it difficult to negotiate
Access to modern tech Monopoly of big players and exporters in the market
Marginal and small farmers with less than 5 hectares of land to get benefit through contract Sponsors unlikely to prefer dealing with many small and marginal farmers

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  1. 'The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill' to replace the ordinances
Provisions The concerns
To remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.Big players to have an edge and are likely to dictate prices
To attract foreign direct investment Latest decision to ban onion export creates uncertainty over execution

According to the government, these bills seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmers' produce outside notified farm mandis and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players before production for sale of agri-produce.

The government argued that these measures will free farmers from the existing government-controlled markets and prices. Further, farmers can get a better price of their produce.

Farmers, on the other hand, have expressed apprehension that once these bills are passed, they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave the farming community at the "mercy" of big corporates.
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Some of the protestors said the government should have consulted the farming community on the bills, which were promulgated as ordinances earlier, as they could adversely impact them.

Opposition leaders say the bill is “anti-farmer”
The opposition is up in the arms against these three bills in the Parliament. Congress said this is an 'act' which will give freedom to corporates to "brutally exploit" farmers and take away the protection that the MSP and the various state Mandi Acts give them.

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Congress’ Members of Parliament (MPs) staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament Complex and raised slogans against the government. Some Congress MPs from Punjab also burnt copies of the farm bills brought in by the government inside the Parliament Complex.

Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee called it a "draconian bill" and "black day" in the history of Parliament for passing an anti-farmer bill.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has also extended his support to the farmers.

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"The three bills related to farming and farmers brought in the Parliament are anti-farmer. Farmers all over the country are opposing them. The central government should withdraw these three bills. The AAP will vote against them in Parliament," he tweeted in Hindi.

A farmers' body is now planning to intensify their stir against the Modi government’s three farm-related Bills — announcing to stop trains in Punjab from September 24 to 26.

“We have decided to hold a 'rail roko' agitation from September 24 to 26 in the state against the farm bills,” said Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher.

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SEE ALSO:
Punjab farmer attempts suicide over the three-agricultural bills passed in Lok Sabha
President Kovind accepts Harsimrat Kaur Badal's resignation
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