INDIA-POLITICS-AGRICULTURE-PROTEST

Farm Bills or Farmers: What is Justified?

There still hasn’t been any breakthrough in the talks between the government and the farmers. Though the government has agreed to give in writing that the farmers will still have an MSP, the farmers are not willing to sacrifice for anything less than a repeal of the laws. The centre has appropriated the protests to be instigated by leftists and Naxalites while it claims that the farmers are being misled by them. The farmers have been protesting against the three farm laws in the centre namely, The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 as the farmers believe that these laws favour corporates instead of the farmers.

These laws abolish the Agricultural Market Produce Committees (APMC) mandis, enabling the farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country to anyone even without a license to sell. This may help the farmers as they get to sell the produce in any district directly to consumers, eliminating all middlemen who currently get a huge number of profits from the consumers. But, nowhere do these laws mention a Minimum Support Price (MSP), even though the Prime Minister did assure that the farmers will continue to sell their products above a certain MSP. The farmers are worried that without an MSP, corporates will take advantage of them. The farmers, in that case, will make even lesser money than they make now with all the middlemen involved, rendering the laws useless.

The law on contract farming will allow the farmers to pass on their losses to corporates as they can then directly form contracts with the corporates. If not regulated properly, these contracts can again be turned to favour the rich corporates, making the farmers their slaves. However, if this act is regulated properly by the government, the losses and profits will be born equally by the farmers as well as the corporates, creating a win-win situation for both.

The third law removes cereals, pulses and other food items from the essential commodities list. This enables foreign investments in the agricultural sector, further pushing agriculture into the hands of wealthy corporates from the farmers who would then be puppets in their fields, doing all the hard work.

Every time there are protests in the country, whether it be the anti – CAA or currently the protests by the farmers, the government claims that it’s being instigated by anti-nationals who are misleading the people of the nation.

Taking the last two laws into consideration, a sense of corporatization of agriculture is perceived by the government. If these laws go through without any amendments that are currently being proposed, then there have to be strict regulations from the government that the rights of the farmers are upheld and corporates do not take advantage of the farmers for their profits.

After these laws have been passed, Sugarcane farmers have been able to gain profits by selling their produce directly to corporates. But at the same time in Bihar, due to the removal of MSP, many farmers have had to sell their produce below their MSP. Initial field reports after the passing of these Acts have been mixed. There has currently been no advancement between the farmers and the government and only time will tell whether or not their conversation will bear any fruit.

Harvest tractor background with copy space.

Rajasthan Passes Bills to Amend Central Farm Legislatures.

On 2nd November the Rajasthan Assembly passed three bills which will make amendments to the Central Farm Acts, namely the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020.

The Bills were passed after a heated 9 hour debate between the treasury and the opposition. The opposition BJP leaders conducted a walkout before the vote as they said the government did not have the authority to bring such a legislation. The Speaker, Dr. Chandra Prakash Joshi said that no changes to the central legislatures has been made but these bills provide security to the farmers and ensure a Minimum Support Price (MSP).

In the assembly, the Bills were introduced by the State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal. However, these Bills will become laws only after the approval of the governor, Kalraj Mishra who can pass on the decision to the President.

The first bill seeks to restore agricultural safeguards in the state through the regulatory frameworks of the state under the Rajasthan Agricultural Produce markets Act, 1961, to secure the livelihoods of the farmers. According to the Bill no agreement is valid as long as the farmer get paid at least an equal amount of the prevailing MSP declared by the central government due to him. It also provides for the imprisonment of three to seven years for harassing farmers.

The second Bill, levy’s a fee on the agricultural produce bought by a corporate or a trader and also empowers the civil court to solve disputes between the farmer and the trader as given under the Agricultural Produce Markets Act.

The third Bill protects the consumers from hoarding and the black markets of agricultural produce. The Bill, unlike the central legislative, empowers the State Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution and also impose limits on stock in extraordinary cases.

Rajasthan, is the third Congress led state to pass such Bills against the Central Legislations, after Punjab and Chhattisgarh. Large sections of farmers and agriculturalists in these states have been protesting against the Central farm laws.

On 2nd November the Rajasthan Assembly passed three bills which will make amendments to the Central Farm Acts, namely the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020.

The Bills were passed after a heated 9 hour debate between the treasury and the opposition. The opposition BJP leaders conducted a walkout before the vote as they said the government did not have the authority to bring such a legislation. The Speaker, Dr. Chandra Prakash Joshi said that no changes to the central legislatures has been made but these bills provide security to the farmers and ensure a Minimum Support Price (MSP).

In the assembly, the Bills were introduced by the State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Kumar Dhariwal. However, these Bills will become laws only after the approval of the governor, Kalraj Mishra who can pass on the decision to the President.

The first bill seeks to restore agricultural safeguards in the state through the regulatory frameworks of the state under the Rajasthan Agricultural Produce markets Act, 1961, to secure the livelihoods of the farmers. According to the Bill no agreement is valid as long as the farmer get paid at least an equal amount of the prevailing MSP declared by the central government due to him. It also provides for the imprisonment of three to seven years for harassing farmers.

The second Bill, levy’s a fee on the agricultural produce bought by a corporate or a trader and also empowers the civil court to solve disputes between the farmer and the trader as given under the Agricultural Produce Markets Act.

The third Bill protects the consumers from hoarding and the black markets of agricultural produce. The Bill, unlike the central legislative, empowers the State Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution and also impose limits on stock in extraordinary cases.

Rajasthan, is the third Congress led state to pass such Bills against the Central Legislations, after Punjab and Chhattisgarh. Large sections of farmers and agriculturalists in these states have been protesting against the Central farm laws.