The Govt has introduced three bills, namely, The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. These bills seek to replace ordinances issued earlier in June.
What is opposition’s and SAD’s problem? And is it justified?
- One of them prohibits state govts from collecting the market fee, cess or levy for trade outside notified APMC mandis, removes inter-state trade barriers, and provides framework for electronic trading directly between a buyer and a farmer. In simple words, it breaks state’s control over farmers, enabling them to choose who they want to sell to. And dries up money laundering practices. No wonder they’re fuming.
2. Another one allows farmers to get into contract with private corporates at a mutually agreed price. The concern was that this would do away with minimum selling price or MSP, leading to exploitation of farmers. Govt has confirmed, that is not true, and MSP will continue. So the “mutually agreed price” will always be greater or equal to MSP. Problem solved. But would the opposition or SAD tell that to the farmers? Nope.
The 3rd one removes cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and provides for deregulation of production, storage, movement and distribution of these food commodities. The concern is that this move undermines food security. Is it true? Nope. Govts still hold power to regularize in case of famine, shortages, wars etc. Meaning, when actually needed, they will regularize. In normal times, they won’t. So now, the hoarders are in a big problem. They cannot dictate terms anymore. Hence, protest.
In a nutshell, govt is trying to open up the agriculture market, ensuring minimum price and food security. The opposition, hoarders, and middlemen are protesting, because they will no longer be able to control things, nor siphon out money.
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