The Farm Bill: Gain or Loss To Farmers?
This article is written by Shambhavi Sinha, a law student at Banasthali vidhyapith, Jaipur. This covers an overview of The Farm Bill and Gain or Loss To Farmers.
Introduction to the Farm Bill
In 2020, our country has faced many new things such as the novel corona pandemic which was going on. India is a country where 70% of people are engaged in agriculture activities but the bitter truth is that the ones i.e. the farmers who feed the nation are now in a state of starvation. The Government takes steps for changes in many sectors. The Environment Impact assessment draft, the national educational policy, and now the farm bill 2020.
The Farm bill was protested by many especially the states like Punjab, Haryana where the majority of the population has an agricultural background. Farmers came in front of the protest against the bill. As we all know, we live in a democracy we all the people have different views on everything and where there is an opinion there must be criticism. Now let us know about APMC and then the Farm Bill.
Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee was established to safeguard farmers from exploitations from large retailers and their high prices. This committee was set up in most of the States and the APMC Act was implemented by most of the states. According to these farmers are allowed to sell their products within the limits of mandis. Two principles of APMC: –
- Farmers should not be exploited
- Farmers will get a fair price for their products.
The Farm Bill 2020 states a combination of three bills which are: –
- Farmer’s Produce Trade and commerce (Promotion and facilitation) Bill
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farms services Bill
- Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill
Farmer’s Produce Trade and commerce (Promotion and facilitation) Bill: –
This Bill provides the liberty to the farmers to do trading in interstate or interstate and also allows them to do trading in warehouse cold storage etc. In this Act, it was stated that the trader should pay the amount on the same day when the goods were delivered and if not done instantly then, it should be done within three days and the receipt should be given at the time of delivery of goods. It was also stated in the Act, that any person who has his PAN Card can directly enter into the trade with farmers.
This Bill was referred to as the “Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Bypass Bill “. The Bill offers an electronic platform where there is online and direct trading of products can be done. The Bill prevents the state government and the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) from imposing cess, and any other charges.
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farms services Bill: –
According to this Bill, farmers can enter into the contract with their customers before the sowing season at pre-fixed prices. The Bill offers to set up a farming agreement between the farmers and the customers and if there will be any third party that should be mention in the agreement. In an agreement, all terms and conditions like pricing, quality standards, etc. were mentioned. The agreement between the farmers and the buyer should be a minimum of one cropping season and a maximum of five years and if beyond five years then mutually decided by farmers and buyers both.
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill: –
According to this Bill, the government can control the productivity, supply, distribution of commodities. Commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion, and potatoes from essential commodities. The main objective of this is to remove the fears of private investors of regulatory influence in their business operations. The bill enables us to invest in private in the agricultural sector. This will be helpful for the farmers to have funds and for the production of crops and helps both farmers and consumers to bring price stability.
Pros & Cons of the Farm Bill
- The farmers had moved towards a freer and more flexible system.
- Farmers can sell their products outside the mandis which will help gain more income.
- The Farm Bill will transform the agriculture sector and leads to a rise in farmer’s income.
- The small farmers who have less than five hectors of land will be benefited.
- The corporate companies help in filling the gap where the is more supply of surplus like vegetables, fruits, and where there is less supply.
- The monopoly of APMC will be affected.
- No guarantee for the rising income of farmers.
- The idea of contract farming will make the farmer’s slaves.
- The motto of one nation one market will not be useful for the small farmers.
Motive of The Government Behind the Farm Bill
The main idea of this bill is to transform the agriculture sector able for the farmers to raise the business outside the mandis that will increase their income also. The Bill also helps the farmers to cope with the technology also. The bill also proposes the concept of contract farming and if there will be a dispute occurs between the farmers and the consumers there were dispute resolution mechanisms and fast redressals. Digitalization is introduced in farming activities which will helpful for farmers for transparency in the system and prevent cybercrimes.
Farmer’s View On the farm Bill
In India, 70% of citizens are engaged in agriculture activities. So, the farmer will highly be affected by the recent farm bill. When the bill was announced, the farmers were worried and upset with the provisions which were in it. Farmers of Haryana, Punjab protected and criticised it. The reason for the protest is a huge revenue loss. They are worried about the wholesale market and the minimum support price. There is no backup plans in case if the private sectors will not offer the relevant prices. They think that firstly the private companies offer high prices and then exploit the farmers when the mandis were closed.
Passing of Bill in Parliament
After the various criticisms and oppositions finally the Farm Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and received assent from Parliament. It was introduced in Parliament on 14th September 2020 and was passed by Lok Sabha after three-day i.e. on 17th September 2020. President Ram Nath kovind gave his assent on 27th September 2020 and finally, the bill was enforced in India.
All three bills have some loopholes. The government should try to reduce those loopholes. The government should discuss with the farmers and made a proper platform for contract farming which helps the farmers not to exploit by private companies. The slogan ‘one country one market ‘therefore is a good step by the government through this income of the farmers will be raised because they can come beyond from mandis.
Also read: National Food Security Act, 2013