While the world awaits Gurupurab tomorrow, farmers from Punjab are protesting against the reformed farm bill 2020. Farmers have taken the protest to roads and are rallying from Punjab/Haryana to Delhi in order to make the union government listen to them. The three laws-The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, The Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Production And Facilitation) Bill and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services-that have faced criticism from both the farmers and the opposition were passed in monsoon session of parliament in 2020. In fact, following this Harsimrat Kaur Badal, an MP of the Shiromani Akali Dal resigned from the BJP cabinet stating that the bills were against the farmers and would vanish the agriculture sector in Punjab. Opposition parties like Congress, TMC, DMK and BSP also opposed the bill stating that it was against the interests of marginal farmers. Gaurav Gogoi from Congress said that the government has been acquiring the lands of the farmers to help their capitalist friends and has termed it a ‘three-pronged’ attack on the farmers of this nation.
The government has said that these reforms will help the small farmers and accelerate the growth of the sector as private investors would be welcomed who would further build infrastructure and form supply chains for the farm produce. The government ensures that the laws will cut the prices of transportation and will be given better prices.
On the other hand, under the bill associated to commodities the protestors and opposition argue that big companies would be allowed to stock commodities which gives them an opportunity to make an upper hand on farmers making less prices for the cultivators. Then the bill relating to contract farming, the opposition says the sponsors might not be interested in dealing with farmers that are marginal and also that farmers will eventually be at a weaker position in negotiating what they need. And in the case of dispute, the advantage would like to exporters, huge companies, sponsors etc as the law provide a legal framework that requires farmers to be under a written contract with the big companies and also to produce for them. While the most important bill that is the agri market bill, protestors argue that without collecting ‘mandi fees’ the states will not be able to collect the revenue and there is a huge question mark about what will happen to the commission agents. The same bill seeks to remove various commodities from the essential commodities list like edible oils, onions, potatoes, cereals and pulses. All in all, what frightens the farmers the most is that this will end minimum support prices regime while the middlemen will also be adversely affected and mandis will lose their relevance and the farmers will also might not be able to bargain with the companies.
Now to make this a little more clear we need to understand that the bill is ultimately for the farmers of India and if they only are not satisfied then the bill deviates from its value.