What are the 3 Farm bills, and why the Congress party is staging a nationwide protest over it?
The Rajya Sabha has passed three contentious Farm Bills that have been gravely protested by the Opposition parties in the Parliament. On 24 Sept, Congress launched a two-month nationwide protest against the ordinances. The party will collect signatures of 2 crore farmers and challenge the proposed bills.
Farmers Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee in Punjab has also begun a three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation. Farmers are concerned that the bills will pull apart the MSP system, however, the government has consistently guaranteed them that it will stay unaltered.
The Railway Ministry expressed that “The blocking of trains by farmers will affect the supply chain of food grains and other essential merchandise. It will also hurt citizens, the rail cargo, and the economy,” The Hindustan Times reported.
As per the Central Government, the freedom towards production, distribution, supply, and holding stocks will help scaling up the economy and also attract foreign direct investment into the Agri sector. While, the Opposition parties are urging President Ramnath Kovind not to sign the bills, and are also requesting the government to take back the ordinance.
Let’s take a look at the details of the three bills and why many farmers and Congress has launched a nationwide agitation over it :-
1. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce bill 2020 permits farmers to sell their harvest at areas other than the APMC-regulated mandis. However, the idea isn’t to close down APMCs but to extend the farmer’s preferences. If farmer finds a better deal with some other private buyer then they have the liberty to choose that instead of selling their produce to APMC mandi.
2. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 endorsed by the Lower House on September 15, was later affirmed in Rajya Sabha in the absence of the Opposition. The bill removes pulses, cereals, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the essential commodities list. It additionally permits economic agents to stock food items uninhibitedly without the fear of hoarding charges.
3. The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020″ which allows the farmers to venture into contract farming with an organization to produce what the company desires to generate excellent profit.
As per the government, all the three Bills are to liberalize the farm markets with the expectation that doing so will make the framework more proficient and take into account better prices for all.
While this move increases the concerns of the farmers as they believe it is a ploy by the administration to move away from its old-established rules of being the sponsor of minimum support prices.
Undoubtedly, MSPs work in the officially controlled APMC mandis and are not in private contracts. Farmers, particularly in Punjab and Haryana are skeptical of what the markets will offer and how the private companies will treat them, The Indian Express reported.