While economists have hailed the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, farmers are up in arms against them
Updated: Sep 18, 2020 10:49 IST
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet on Thursday in protest against legislation seeking to liberalise agricultural markets. The resignation came as the legislation has triggered protests by farmers, whom SAD, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest ally, counts as its core support base in Punjab, a key food bowl state. Economists, however, have hailed the reforms. Here are what the reforms in the farm sector entail and why they have angered farmers:
1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill seek to free up farm trade from restrictions to guarantee a legal framework for pre-agreed prices.
2. They lay down a new architecture for contract farming.
3. The legislation will allow the government to invoke the Essential Commodities Act only if retail prices rise 50% in case of non-perishables and 100% in the case of perishable items from the average retail prices in the preceding 12 months or last five years.
4. Farmers fear the legislation would lead to big monopolies and be as bad as the current cartelisation in mandis known as agricultural produce market committees and also affect the procurement system.
5. The farmers want profitable sales in the form of minimum support prices (MSPs) to be a legal right. They fear the reforms threaten MSPs.
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