Farmers protesting on Farm bills

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3-  Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

Context- Farmer’s organisation across the country gave a call for a bandh on September 25th to protest the three bills passed by Parliament.

What are the new Farm Bills?

Three Farm Bills that are bond for contention-

  1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 (FPTC).
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 (FAPAFS).
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Why are these bills being protested?

These bills have been protested by not only the farmers, even opposition and state legislatures are not supporting these bills due to-

  1. Unconstitutional Procedure-The manner in which the bills were thrust upon the farming community. Not only the farmers’ organisations, but even state governments and allies have not been consulted.
  2. Against the spirit of cooperative federalism –
  • All the earlier attempts at reforming agricultural marketing respected the constitutional separation of powers. While the Centre proposed the model acts, these were implemented by state governments.

For instances– Out of 36 states and union territories-

    1. 18 states have already enacted reforms allowing for establishment of private market yards/private markets.
    2. 19 states have enacted reforms allowing for direct purchase of agricultural produce from agriculturists by processor/bulk buyer/bulk retailer/exporter.
    3. 20 states have enacted contract farming acts.
    4. Kerala and Bihar do not have APMC mandis and Tamil Nadu has a different system.
    5. Most states have exempted levy of taxes and fees on sale of fruits and vegetables.
  • The current reforms completely bypass the state governments and weaken their ability to regulate agricultural markets even though it is a state subject.
  1. Changing objectives of the government-unlike earlier reforms where the focus was on strengthening the functioning of APMC mandis while allowing for greater private market access and participation, the current FTPC bill bypasses the APMC altogether, creating a separate structure of trading.
  2. Creation of dual market structure-The absence of regulation and exemption from mandi fees creates a dual market structure which is not only inefficient but will also encourage unregulated trade detrimental to the primary purpose of providing market access to farmers for better price discovery and assured prices.
  3. Corporate Exploitation-FTPC Bill is not about delivering on the promise of freedom to farmers but freedom to private capital to purchase agricultural produce at cheaper prices and without any regulation or oversight by the government.
  4. Contract farming bill and amendments in the essential commodities act– Apart from the fact that the provisions of these bills are highly skewed in favour of private capital, with no limits on stockholding and restrictions of government interventions, there is limited recourse to any independent grievance redressal mechanism.
  5. Government actions-Agricultural terms of trade have moved against agriculture with rising input prices (with the government increasing diesel prices despite the collapse in international prices) and declining farm gate prices.

Way Forward

The government should re-consider all the farm bills with the states, famer’s organisations, and their representatives. So, that the farmers will gets the opportunity to give their opinions and address their issues regarding the farm bills. Also by this farmers will understand the agenda of the government’s view of the bills. This will bring harmony and peace among the protestors.

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