New Delhi, September 18: With a focus on farmers, the Narendra Modi government introduced three legislations - Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. These legislations will replace three ordinances promulgated on June 5. While the government says the three legislations will increase farmers' income and investment in the agriculture sector, other parties, including Shiromani Akali Dal, a BJP ally, think otherwise. Groups of farmers have also launched protests against the three Bills. Harsimrat Kaur Badal's Resignation: President Kovind Accepts Harsimrat's Resignation, Narendra Singh Tomar Assigned Her Portfolio.
What Are The Three Agriculture Bills?
Introduced by Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeks to amend the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 that empowers the central government to control the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce in certain commodities. The Bill has been passed by Lok Sabha.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers and traders to sale and purchase of their choice. It promotes the inter-state and intra-state sale of farmers' produce outside the local markets. It also permits electronic trading of farmers' produce. SAD Opposes Farm-related Essential Commodities Bill.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to frame national guidelines for trade agreements between farmers and 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. Harsimrat Kaur Badal Resigned Under Pressure of Punjab's Local Politics, Says BJP.
What The Government Is Saying:
The government is of the view that these Bills are pro-farmers and open new businesses opportunities for farmers that will result in higher prices of their produce and increased income. "These steps are only the latest in a series of measures taken by the government, which shows its continuous commitment to championing the cause of welfare of the farmers of India," Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said while tabling two of the legislations.
"These Bills are very far-sighted. They are in the process of being passed as Acts in the Parliament. These Bills will rapidly increase the price of produce of the farmers. These Bills will also help increase investment in the agriculture sector," Rajya Sabha MP and BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda said.
Why Farmers Are Protesting Against The Three Bills:
Various groups and unions of farmers have launched protests against the three legislations. They say the three Bill will lay the foundation for suspension of the minimum support price (MSP) system. "The Union government wants to crush the commission agents and the farmers by enacting the three new laws. The government's assurance that the MSP will not be withdrawn and they will be free to sell their produce to private companies is dubious and cannot be trusted," Preet Singh, the district president of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha was quoted by India Today as saying. Farmers Will Protest Outside Parliament Against Farm Bills: Haryana BKU Leader.
They also fear that the traditional grain market system will be finished and small farmers will suffer loses as they won't be able to seal an agreement with big retailers or wholesale buyers. While the Bills can remove commission agents who currently facilitate trade between farmers and buyers, farmers want this procedure to remain intact.
It is because small and medium farmers depend on these commission agents for finances to sow the crop and sale of their produce. If these commission agents are gone, they won't have money to buy seeds and other equipment for farming as banks hesitate to lend. Farmers also fear that once big private companies will enter the agriculture sector, they will capture it and traditional wholesale markets will shut.
"The protest will be indefinite if the ordinances are not withdrawn. We will go to New Delhi and will be compelled to take extreme steps. The farmers are already stressed and are committing suicides every day. If these ordinances became law, they will destroy agriculture," Sahab Singh, leader Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), said.