On Thursday, the Lok Sabha passed Farm bills, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. Earlier the Lok Sabha had already passed Essential Commodities (Amendment), Bill.
The three bills will now be tabled in Rajya Sabha and become laws after the Upper House also passes them. They will replace ordinances promulgated by the Union government.
The two bills were passed amid protests held by opposition parties. Sukhbir Singh Badal who is the chief of Shiromani Akali Dal called these bills as anti-farmers. Harsimaarat Kaur Badal who is the lone member of the SAD resigned from his position accusing the government not taking farmers on board.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described these bills as historic and said that these bills will help farmers and the farm sector to get rid of middlemen and other bottlenecks. The government says that farmers will be able to get a better market for their product and price.
The legislation seeks a barrier-free agricultural trade. Farm sector will be open for more open competition by this bill. It will enable food traders to buy farmers’ produce from any market, rather than bind them to the specific markets where they are licensed to operate.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill lay down a new architecture for contract farming. It provides for a national framework on farming agreements, enabling a farmer to engage with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a mutually pre-agreed price.
Farmers protest against the newly passed bills as they believe that these new bills will encourage hoarding by big farmers and smaller players will suffer. The opposition also say that the government is intruding in the State’s jurisdiction and took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to pass the bills.