Introduction- on Sunday 20th sep,2020, Rajya Sabha passed two of the three farm reform bills that have seen widespread protests in recent weeks, particularly in Haryana and Punjab, where the ruling BJP has lost its ally Shiromani Akali Dal. Prime minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that farmers will benefit from the changes, first mentioned as part of the Atamnirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package. The bills replaced three ordinances promulgated earlier. The bill replaces the farmer’s (Empowerment and protection ) Agreement of Price Assurance and farm Services Ordinance,2020. Therefore, please refer to our legislative brief on the agriculture ordinances,2020
KEY ORDINANCES AND FARMERS DEMANDS-
The farmers produce trade and commerce (promotion and Facilitation) ordinance 2020; the farmers (empowerment and protection ) agreement on price Assurance and farm services ordinance 2020 and the essential commodities (Amendment ) Ordinance,2020. while farmers are protesting against all three farmers are protesting against all these three ordinances turned bills, the ordinance\bill that is majority under protest is the first bill. And while there is no uniform demand among the protesters or a unified leadership, it emerges that their concerns are mainly about sections relating to trade area, trader, dispute resolution and market fee in the said first bill. Basically, the farmers demand includes a roll back of all the three bills, mandi system to remain intact, loans to be cleared. The union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar stated that the bill merely elucidates for trade area outside the physical limits of APMC mandis. These areas would serve as an additional marketing channel for farmers, even as the APMCs will continue to function parallelly. The freedom of choice to sell outside the regulated mandis will help farmers realize better price for their produce. In simple words, selling the produce outsides the physical territory of the mandis will be an additional marketing channel for the farmers.
WHAT DOES THA FARMERS BILL DO SO-
The first thing to do is to simplify the names of these ordinance as agriculture economists Sudha Narayanan (of the IGIDR) has done. So think of , ‘the farmers Produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation ) ordinance,2020 as the APMC by pass ordinance, treat “the essential Commodities (Amendment ) ordinance 2020 as the freedom of food stocking by agribusiness, ordinance,2020 as the contract farming ordinance. On paper, what the first one attempts to do is allow farmers to sell their produce at places other than APMC regulated mandis. It is crucial to note that the idea is not to shut down APMCs but to expand a farmers believes a better deal is possible with some other private buyer then he can take that option instead of selling in the APMC mandi.
The second Bill propose to allow economic agents to stock food articles freely without the fear of being prosecuted for hoarding.
The third bill provides a framework for farmers to enter into contract farming that is signing a written contract with a company to produce what the company wants in return of a healthy remuneration.
The idea with all three Bills is to b e liberalise the form markets in the hope that doing so will make the system moiré efficient and allow for better price realization for all concerned, especially the farmers . the central concerns presumably is to make Indian farming a more remuneration enterprise than it is right now.
The new legislation will empowers farmers for engaging with procession, wholesalers large retailers, exporters etc. on a level playing field. Price assurance to farmers even before sowing of crops. In case of higher market price, farmers will be entitled to this price over and above thE Mnimum prices.
It will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmers to the sponser. Due to prior price determination, farmers will be shielded from the rise and fall of market prices.
It will also enables the farmers to access modern techonolgy, better seed and other inputs.
It will reduce the cost of marketing and improve the income of farmers.
An effective dispute resultion mechanism has been provided with clear timelines for redressal.
The impetus to research and new techonology in the agriculture sector.
Under contracts framing,farmers wil be under pressure and they will not be able to determine prices .
How will `small farmers be able to practice contract farming, sponser will shy away for them.
The new system will be a problem for framers.
In case of dispute, big companies will be at an advantage.
The farmer will have full power in the contract to fix the sale price of his choice for the produce. They will receive a payment within a maximum of 3 days.
10000 farmers producers organization are being formed throughout the country. Theses FPOs will bring together small farmers and work to ensure remunerative pricing for farm produce.
After signifying the contract, the farmers will not have out traders. The purchasing consumer will pick up the product directly from the farm.
In case of dispute, there will be no need to go to court repeatedly. There will be a local dispute redressal mechanism.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ORDINANCE-
T he farmers produce trade and commerce ( promotion and facilitation) Ordinance,2020 allows intra- state trade of farmers produce beyond the physical premises of APMC markets. State government are prohibited from levying outside APMC areas.
The standing committee on agriculture (2018 -19) note that the availability of a transport, easily accessible and efficient marketing platform is a pre-requisite to ensure remunerative prices for framers. Most farmers lack access to government procurement facilities and AMPC markets. It noted that small rural markets can emerge as a viable alternatives for agricultural marketing if they are provided with adequate infrastructure facilities. The standing committee also recommended that the Gramin Agriculture market schemes ( which aims to improve infrastructure civic facilities in 22,000 gramin hoats across the country ) should be made a fully funded central schemes and scaled to ensure the presence of a haat in each panchayat of the country.