New Farm Bills and Indian Farmer
What Are Farm Bills?
The farm bill is a kind of massive piece of legislation. It almost covers everything of farmers and consumers ensuring adequate food supply, fair price, and the country’s vital natural resource protection.
In India, Farm Bills 2020 consists of three farm bills that are passed by the Indian Parliament. The farmer bills don’t seek to suspend current MSP- based procurement on food grains. But it gives an alternative platform to sell farm produce. So it is a direct marketing platform that farmers can sell their produce to corporates or exporters as bulks. The government has implemented these bills believing it will help to transform agriculture and double the farm income by 2022.
New Farm Bills 2020
1. Farmer’s Produce and Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
This bill is actually for the Agri markets. Under this, farmers are given a chance to make a written agreement with anyone and sell their produce for a set period of time on a contract basis. On the other hand, companies can buy produce from farmers on a contract basis. As this bill is not affiliated with APMC, farmers and traders can sell and buy products outside of registered ‘Mandis’.
Since mandi fees can’t be collected, states won’t get any revenue.
Since it is outside the current MSP system, it may end up in the MSP system.
e-NAM is also associated with the mandi structure. So e- NAM will be also destroyed.
2. The Farmer (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
This bill is created for contract farming providing a national framework. Contracts are established through an agreement between farmer and buyer at the very beginning of production of any farm produce. The government hopes to launch this contract-based approach in a fair and transparent manner. Also, this bill helps farmers to access modern technologies and the best inputs. Due to this bill, Farmer becomes free from the risk of market unpredictability. So the risk is transferred to the sponsor.
Farmers may not be experienced with negotiating for what they need. Therefore, farmers will act weaker in the contract arrangement.
Sponsors and big companies may not like to deal with multiple farmers, because it will become more complex.
3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
This bill is created for agricultural commodities. By this amendment, cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion, and potatoes have been removed from the previous list of essential commodities. Most Private sector investors fear excessive regulatory interference for their businesses. But via this new amendment, freedom has been given to the private sector investors hoping to improve the cold chain facilities. Almost all the steps of agriculture marketing (Production, Supply, and Distribution) are controlled under this bill. This bill ensures the commodity price won’t be increased although there is a shortage of that particular commodity.
Since big companies have the freedom to stock commodities, farmers/cultivators may not receive a fair price comparatively.
Items such as cereals, pulses, potatoes, onion, etc. have been removed from the essential commodity list. They can be added to the list again only under extraordinary circumstances.
Although the government created these farm bills hoping improves the agriculture sector, farmers are protesting against these bills saying these bills lead to the corporatization of agriculture. Most experts also point out that these new farm bills are anti-farmer concepts.