New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two agricultural sector bills amid protests from the opposition. The two bills -- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 -- were passed in Lok Sabha via voice vote. Meanwhile, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The three bills, however, have been viciously protested by the opposition who claim that the Centre is trying to do away with the minimum support price (MSP). Not only the opposition but BJP’s oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal has also protested against the bills and said that it will review its membership in the ruling NDA.

 

“We stand with the farmers and will do anything for them. Next course of action will be taken by our party for which there will be a meeting shortly,” Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal was quoted as saying by ANI.

So what are these bills and why are the farmers protesting against them?

Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020:

The central government has informed that this bill allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets and other markets notified under the state APMC Acts.

The Centre has said that this bill will also permit the “electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area”.

Also Read | Why farmers in Haryana and Punjab are up in arms against centre's farm ordinances

Under this bill, the state governments will also be prohibited from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for a trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’, the Centre has noted.

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020:

This bill talks about creating a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production or rearing of any farm produce. According to the government, the agreement must “provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes”.

The central government has further said that this bill will provide a three-level dispute settlement mechanism -- the conciliation board, Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Appellate Authority.

Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020:

The Centre has said that the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 will allow it to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances (such as war and famine). The government further said that stocks limits may be imposed on agricultural produce only if there is a steep price rise. The bill also requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.

How these bills will benefit the farmers?

The government has repeatedly said that these bills will revolutionarise the lives of the farmers in India, asserting that "MSP was, MSP is, and MSP will continue in the future". It has further asserted that these bills will help the farmers to get connected to big traders and exporters, bringing profit to agriculture.

"Few people have opposed it for sheer political reasons. Under the leadership of PM Modi, poor and farmers are being taken care of. Congress too have said such things in its manifestos. The Modi government took a decision. MSP will stay, I want to assure all of you," said Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The Union Agricultural Minister, meanwhile, has also said that these bills will not affect the State APMC Act. "APMC will be in the state but there will be inter-state trade outside its periphery and the farmers will be able to sell their produce from their field, home and any place after the legislation comes into existence," he said.

What does PM Modi have to say?

Following the passage of the bills in the Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described them as historic, asserting that they will rid farmers and the farm sector of middlemen and other bottlenecks.

In a series of tweets, PM Modi asserted that some people are trying to "mislead' farmers, saying these reforms will provide new opportunities to farmers.   

"These agriculture reforms will provide new avenues to farmers to sell their produce which will increase their profits. The agriculture sector will benefit from modern technology and our farmers will also be empowered," PM Modi tweeted in Hindi.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma