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.


Agriculture Bills Passed by the Parliament leads to protests by farmers and a ‘Bharat Bandh’

The new agriculture reform laws that have been passed by the government have been met with protests from the farmers union mostly in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and calling for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ (nationwide shutdown) on Friday. Farmers fear that the new bills passed will destroy the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and hinder the functioning of agricultural mandis.

The country-wide strike called by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Farmers Union (AIFU), All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM), has received support from 18 political parties, including the Congress. Farmers’ bodies from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have also called for a shutdown.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has urged farmers to maintain law and order and to follow the Covid-19 protocols. He added that no FIR will be filed for the violation of section 144 during the protest.

In wake of the bandh, normal life and public transport across states could most likely be affected today. Fourteen special passenger trains running from the railways’ Ferozepur division have been cancelled from September 24 to 26 due to the three-day ‘rail roko’ protest. The Delhi-Haryana border is likely to be sealed and the Delhi police remain on high alert.