Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have laid siege to the national capital. Tens of thousands of farmers in India have been blockading main highways around New Delhi for two weeks — part of a much wider two-month-long protest by farmers across the country. At the center of it all, the farmers are protesting three laws that the Government of India passed during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament in September this year.
Mandis, where farmers have been selling their produce until now, will cease to function as big private players will dictate prices of farm produce.
These are – the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The two bills had already cleared the lower house – the Lok Sabha. When they were introduced in the Rajya Sabha, there was ruckus and finally, the Bill was passed through a voice vote.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
This Bill allows the farmers to sell their produce outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) regulated markets. The APMCs are government-controlled marketing yards or mandis. So, the farmers clearly have more choice on who they want to sell.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
This Bill makes provisions for the setting up of a framework for contract farming. The farmer and an ordained buyer can strike a deal before the production happens.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets. State governments are prohibited from levying any market fee, cess, or levy outside APMC areas.
Why Farmers Are Protesting?
Farmers across the country are apprehensive that if the new bills become law, they will not get the Minimum Support Price (commonly known as MSP) they have been demanding from the government for months, as the proposed legislation does not specify any method of determining the “guaranteed price” farmers will get.
They fear the government will no longer continue the procurement of farm produce at MSP.
Mandis, where farmers have been selling their produces until now, will cease to function as big private players will dictate prices of farm produce.
As a result, these very big companies will get an advantage in case of disputes.
When did the protests begin?
Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.
The situation escalated two weeks ago when tens of thousands marched to New Delhi, where they clashed with police and set up protest camps.
What does the government say?
The government has been firm that the new laws are going to bring an ecosystem that will give farmers the freedom of choice to sell and purchase their produce inter-state and intra-state.
The Centre said that it will be beneficial to not only farmers but also traders and consumers.
The government has also said that farmers will be able to engage in direct marketing of their crops.
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