On Gurupurab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that the government has decided to repeal the three farm laws, which were at the centre of protests by farmers for the past year, and appealed to the farmers to call off the agitation and return home. The farmers’ protest will mark one year on November 26.
Addressing the nation on the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Modi insisted that the laws were in the benefit of farmers and then apologised to people of the country while adding that the government could not convince a section of farmers despite its clear heart and clean conscience. “There may have been some shortcoming in our efforts due to which we could not explain the truth, as clear as the light of the diya, to some of our farmer brothers," he said. Noting that it is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, he said it was no occasion to blame anyone.
In September 2020, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the three ‘Agriculture Bills’ that were earlier passed by the Indian Parliament, which then became acts. These Farm Acts are as follows:
1 - Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
2 - Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
3 - Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
Here is an explainer on the three farm laws:
1. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020: It seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis). This is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels. Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under this Act.
The government had said that this will open more choices for farmers, reduce marketing costs, and help them get better prices. It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers in areas with shortages at lower prices.
Farmers’ Opposition: States will lose revenue as they will not be able to collect ‘mandi fees’ if farmers sell their produce outside registered Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets. Besides, commission agents stand to lose if the entire farm trade moves out of mandis.
Farmers fear it may eventually lead to the end of the minimum support price (MSP) -based procurement system and may lead to exploitation by private companies.
2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020: This legislation seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
Centre said that it seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors. Besides giving them access to modern tech and better inputs, it also seeks to boost farmer income by reducing the cost of marketing.
Farmers’ Opposition: Farmer bodies say the law is framed to suit “big corporates who seek to dominate the Indian food and agriculture business” and will weaken the negotiating power of farmers. Also, big private companies, exporters, wholesalers, and processors may get an edge.
3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020: The law seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits on such items except under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ like war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity.
The Union government said it is aimed at attracting private investment/FDI into the farm sector as well as bringing price stability.
Farmers’ Opposition: Big companies will have the freedom to stock commodities, helping them dictate terms to farmers.
(With agency inputs)
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