Farm Bills 2020; The Benefits And The Drawbacks
The agriculture bill popularly known as Farm bills came into existence in 2020 after being passed by the Parliament of India. President Ram Nath Kovind on 27th September 2020 gave his acceptance towards the said bill. The bill is divided into three acts each refers to different categories of farming related difficulties and it provides benefits towards the farmers. As you read along, you will understand what each act talks about, how it is beneficial towards the farmers and how it has some loopholes which need to be addressed by the government in order to gain the trust back from the farmers.
After the green revolution of 1967 in India, it brought a few changes in the lives of farmers making it easier for them to cope up with the harsh economic circumstances in India. These benefits included Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) also known as mandis and MSP (minimum support price). Both of these made farming easier as the farmers were provided a fixed price by the government if they weren’t able to sell their harvest and a place to sell their produces to the buyers. After the new farm bill came to existence which included new ways to sell crops and benefit the farmers, it changed the old ways completely making the farmers anxious as they totally are dependent on these rules to sell their crops and hence the protest started.
1. Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
In this bill the government focused on spreading the sale of produces by the farmers outside of the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) also known as mandis. Earlier, they regulated these types of sale of produces from framers to traders. After the said bill was passed, a nationwide access is provided to the farmers to sell their produce, before they were restricted to their own States through APMC. MSP (minimum support price) which was fixed by the government before the crops were sown giving an idea to the farmers towards their crops. These were decided only for a few crops.
Advantages: The farmers used to bring their produce to APMC and these APMC used to sell their produce. This lead to APMC getting the monopoly under which the farmers had no idea regarding the actual pricing of their produce. The prices were already fixed by the traders in the APMC in turn leaving no choice to the farmers but to accept the deal and sell the produce in the said amount. After the act, this monopoly play has been dismissed giving full rights to farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want. MSP gives an idea to the farmer regarding the pricing of their crops.
Disadvantages: This bill will be non-beneficial for the states as they will lose the commission they used to get from the APMC as mandi fees. After the act the concept of MSP might vanish making farmers vulnerable who were dependent on the MSP.
Solution: MSP is only done for few crops and other crops have no uniform price. This makes the buyers and traders more powerful than the framers. A system should be created by the government to make sure framers know the value of their produce before selling them. Proper educational unit should be set up by the government towards providing necessary welfare and knowledge towards farming and farmers.
2. Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020
In this act farmers get a benefit of coming into a contract or an agreement on their own without any outside interference before starting their farming, under this contract the farmer and the buyer before sowing or rearing of any produce fix some terms and conditions regarding price of product, period of framing, dispute settlement and other farming related terms and conditions. After the bill, a nationwide access is provided to the farmers to sell their produce anywhere, before they were restricted to their own APMC.
Advantage: After a farmer comes into a contract the buyer becomes obliged to the terms and conditions of the price that was fixed before for the sale of produce, this gives an assurance to the farmers plus, they don't have to worry about the price fluctuation in the market as the prices were already set and they sold their goods before even sowing.
Disadvantages: The farmers after this bill will have to directly face the big business firms, these buyers will have their own legal team and their own terms and conditions with proper documentation as well as proper assistants giving them a benefit over farmers, who are poor and cannot afford all this for themselves. This will lead to business firms taking undue advantage of uneducated, under accessed, unaware farmers.
Solution: The agenda given under the act to protect the farmer through sub division magistrate is a farfetched dream as they are already overworked. The only way to protect farmer is by interference of government towards making sure the farmers know their rights, what’s written in the contract and an outside legal and farming assistance to let the farmers know their true produce price and contract details.
3. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020
Earlier, the government of India put certain produce under essential goods the storage of these produce more than the quantity specified by the government was legal. This resulted in disadvantage for farmers as when they produce excess amount of crops the buyers couldn't buy it resulting them to sell it in a much lower price and in turn facing loss. After the act under the essential goods certain commodities added to this list such as cereals, pulses, potato, onion, edible oil seeds, and oil. The government of India can only regulate the prices and stock regarding supply in the cases of extraordinary price rise or natural calamities. In other terms hoarding of goods were allowed now and the only time government can put restriction is when it's absolutely needed.
Advantage: Farmers after this relaxation will see a potential of seeing their produce completely as no stocking restrictions on the trade is there making it an “unlimited buying and demand for their produce”.After the bill of 2020 government of India removed “commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This will end the imposition of stock-holding limits except under extraordinary circumstances”.
Disadvantages: Due to this act the concept of excess storage of item when the price is minimum and accessible will increase as the buyer will purchase excess amount of produce in a minimum cost and store it, not selling a single item till the prices go. This will create scarcity and it will increase the price of produce and the holder of produce will sell these produces in a much higher rate.
Solution: Government has to see into all these advantage traders can make out of the act and impose stricter laws regarding malafide storage of produce to create scarcity. Imposing punishment and penalty will create a scare in people plus an additional unit should be set up to look over the farmers and the peoples benefit which will be a huge help to all.
The Framers Side
The farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and UP are protesting against the said bill as they feel the good the government said it would provide is not going to happen and in turn it will harm the farmers. Big business corporations will have more power over small framers and they will take advantage of them as bargains power will remain in the hand of these corporations.
The farm bill brought fear in the minds of farmers that Minimum Support Price (MSP) which guaranteed their price of crops from the beginning will be lost. The function of selling their crops within their own states in their own mandis was an added relief and now with this change they fear the power will lie with the central government making the know system disappear and the central government more robust.
In the earlier system, MSP made farmer a bit more relieved and helped them focus in their farming more without the fear or anticipation of the their produce price. This was done by the state government making it more feasible and it had a proper procedure which was done before every crop season making it more easier for the farmers. The MSP was made for around 23 crops but the most crops which the government purchased was wheat and rice. This was a huge benefit for farmers from Haryana, MP and Punjab as they grew these crops in a large quantity every year, therefore that state farmers are protesting as they fear they will lose their benefit with these new reforms.
In the end
The farmers seek towards the repulsion of these bills which seeks a bit of a situation which can be sought by negotiating with the farmers and meeting their demand. The farmers need to come half way and so does the government for this protest to end and the bill to remain intact. The basic problem which is arising is from the MSP and the mandis and the solution the act provides is through sub division magistrate and on this the farmers say is “They aren’t independent courts and cannot deliver us justice, leave alone guarantee timely payment”.
The demands can be met if the farmers listen to government and the government let the farmers talk. A simple solution which will benefit both parties can be negotiated if they sat down to negotiate which should be done as soon as possible to bring the peace, unity and acceptance back to normal.
 Arfa Javaid, “Farm Laws 2020: Everything you need to know about the new agriculture reforms in India’’, jagranjosh, DEC 4, 2020 15:44 IST  Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020(Act No. 21 of 2020)  Kiriti Pandey,“What is the farm bill and why are farmers protesting against it?”,timesnownews, DEC 04,2020 16:19 IST  Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020(Act No. 20 of 2020)  Editorial,“Everything one needs to know about farm bill”,DEC 04, 2020, 09:33AM IST.  Editorial,“Farmers’ protest explained: What are the big concerns, what can the government negotiate?”,DEC 04,2020  Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020(Act No. 10 of 1995)  Editorial,“Farmers’ protest explained: What are the big concerns, what can the government negotiate?”,DEC 04,2020  Arfa Javaid, “Farm Laws 2020: Everything you need to know about the new agriculture reforms in India’’, jagranjosh, DEC 4, 2020 15:44 IST  Arfa Javaid, “Farm Laws 2020: Everything you need to know about the new agriculture reforms in India’’, jagranjosh, DEC 4, 2020 15:44 IST  Kiriti Pandey,“What is the farm bill and why are farmers protesting against it?”,timesnownews, DEC 04,2020 16:19 IST  Editorial,“Farmers’ protest explained: What are the big concerns, what can the government negotiate?”,DEC 04,2020