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- Aryana Farmers Protest: What Is Agriculture Ordinance (BILL) 2020 | Know Everything About Farm Sector Bills In Simple Words, What Does Act Mean
36 minutes agoAuthor: Ravindra Bhajani
Union Minister for Agriculture, Farmers Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday introduced bills to pass three ordinances related to farming issued during the lockdown. On this, farmers are agitating in many parts of the country including Punjab, Haryana. In many areas, he blocked major highways and demanded that the proposed laws not be passed in Parliament.
What is the first three bills?
- These three bills have been introduced targeting the agricultural reforms – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
- All these three laws were implemented by the central government in the form of ordinance on 5 June 2020 during the lockdown. Since then there has been a ruckus on them. The central government is calling them the biggest agrarian reforms ever. However, the opposition parties see the benefit of exploitation of farmers and corporates in this.
- Even after opposition from Congress and other parties, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha. Now it will go to Rajya Sabha for discussion. The law will formally come into force when passed from there. The government is trying to get these three laws passed by Parliament in this session.
1. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020
- What is the current system? Farmers do not have much option to sell their crops. Farmers are required to sell crops to Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs). Only the registered licensee or the state government can sell the crop. Cannot sell crops in other states or through e-trading.
- What will happen with the law? Such an eco-system will be created, where farmers will be able to sell the crop at the desired location. Inter-state and intra-state businesses will be able to do without any hindrance. Also outside the scope of APMC of the states. You can also sell your crop through electronic trading. Marketing costs of farmers will be saved. In areas where farmers have surplus crop, they will get good price in those states. Similarly, in states where there is shortage, they will get goods at a lower price.
- What is the objection? Farmers used to get fair prices for their crops from agricultural produce markets. This regulates the market. The states used to earn revenue in the form of mandi duty, from which basic facilities are collected for the farmers. If the mandis are over, the farmers will not get the MSP ie minimum support price. Even if the government is giving the slogan of One Nation One Market, One Nation should be One MSP. However, BJP President JP Nadda claims there is no threat to the minimum support price by this law. The farmers will continue to get that.
2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020
- What is the current system? Farmers' earnings in India are entirely dependent on the monsoon, production uncertainties and the market's adaptability. Due to this the risk in farming is very high. Farmers do not get returns according to hard work. Contract farming is not new in India. Informal covenants are common for grains. There are also formal agreements in the sugarcane and poultry sector.
- What will happen with the law? The government claims that the entire risk associated with farming will not shift to the farmers, but to those who agree with them. Contract farming will get the National Framework. The farmers will be able to make an agreement with agri-business companies, processors, wholesalers, exporters and big retailers to sell the crops to them at a fixed price. This will save their marketing costs. Brokers will end. Farmers will get fair price for the crop. In case of dispute, there will be effective arrangement for its settlement within the time limit. The written agreement shall contain the terms and conditions relating to supply, quality, grade, standards and price. Even if the price of the crop is low, farmers will get guaranteed price on contract basis. There will also be a provision of bonus or premium.
- What is the objection? The bill promises to protect prices from exploitation, but does not prescribe any mechanism to fix prices. There are fears that this will give private corporate houses a means of exploitation of farmers. Critics of the bill fear that the farming sector is unorganized. In such a situation, if there is a chance to fight the corporates, then they will have less resources.
3. Essential Commodity (Amendment) Ordinance
- What is the current system? India is currently in surplus in most agricultural commodities. Farmers are unable to get benefits due to reduced investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and exports due to the Essential Commodities Act. When there is a bumper crop, farmers suffer heavy losses. Especially, if the crop is rotting quickly.
- What will happen with the law? This law will help in modernization of cold storage and food supply chains. This will help maintain price stability for farmers as well as consumers. The stock limit will be applicable only when the prices of vegetables double or if the retail price of non-perishable crop increases by 50%. Cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes have been removed from the list of essential commodities. This would end government control over production, storage, movement and distribution. In the event of war, natural calamity, extraordinary price rise and other circumstances, the central government will take control.
- What is the objection? Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says that by ending the regulation on food items, exporters, processors and traders will hoard during the harvest season. This will cause price volatility. Food security will be completely eliminated. The states will not know how much stock is there in the states. Critics say that this may increase the black marketing of essential commodities.
What is the government saying?
- Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says that all these three proposed laws will help in increasing the income of farmers in India. The government's focus is on making farmers self-reliant. For this, plans to build godowns, cold storage in every village have already been announced. Kisan Rail has also been started. So that farmers can get a higher price for their goods. BJP president JP Nadda said that the bill related to farming is the foresight of the Modi government. This will boost agricultural production.
Who is against the government on the three Bills and with whom?
- About six opposition parties led by the Congress have opposed these Bills in Parliament. The NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal also voted against the bill. Those who supported the Congress include Trinamool Congress, BSP, NCP and CPI-M. However, Shiv Sena, which is running the government in Maharashtra with Congress and NCP, stood with the government on this bill. The BJD, TRS and YSR Congress Party also supported the government on Essential Commodity (Amendment) Ordinance.
Is there any reason for opposition?
- Farmers and farmers' organizations of Punjab and Haryana are mainly protesting against these laws. In July, he also performed with the Tractors against Ordinance. On August 28, the Punjab Assembly has passed a resolution against the ordinance of the Center. Congress-ruled states say that agriculture and its associated markets are the jurisdiction of the states. The center is unnecessarily interfering in it. However, the government says that the business of food items is within its scope. Because of this, she is working according to the constitution itself.
(Inputs from PRS Legislative Research)