India’s Farmers Protest Passage Of 3 Farm Acts

India’s Farmers Protest Passage Of 3 Farm Acts

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Farmers
hold protests nationwide to oppose the passage of the
anti-farmer reforms. Photo from
NDTV

Despite
the nationwide protests on September 25th, President Ramnath
Kovind gave assent to the three farm bills on Sunday
27-September 2020, recently passed by the parliament. The
three bills were the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce
(Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers
(Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance
and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and Essential Commodities
(Amendment) Bill 2020.

The President didn’t pay any
heed to the irregularities brought by the members of
parliament and the partisan manner in which the Deputy
chairman conducted the business in Rajya Sabha. President
should have used his powers to ask the government to
reconsider but he chose to stand with the government. We are
deeply disappointed and outraged at this murder of democracy
and violation of every possible procedure and conversion of
parliament into a rubber stamp. After the dubious proceeding
of passing the bills by voice vote, it should have been
discussed, debated, and sent to the parliamentary committee
for further analysis and adding necessary amendments,
affirming the security and benefit of the
farmers.

Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce
(Promotion and Facilitation), Act

The Farmers’
Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act,
promotes private markets for the trading of agricultural
produce. The central government is calling it favorable for
farmers as they will now be able to sell their produce
wherever they want, but the question is how many farmers
sell their products in distant markets and have enough
resources to do so? More than 80% of the farmers do not have
landholdings of more than 2 Hectares and the act does not
have any clause for regulating the prices outside the
Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), commonly known
as ‘Anaj Mandi’ or ‘Krishi Mandi’. There are close
to 7000 APMCs in the country with their own ecosystem of
trading and employment.

This act allows middlemen or
traders or private companies to bypass the APMCs and buy it
directly from farmers or other trading centers. The APMC’s
will not shut immediately but eventually, they will, as most
of the trade will be happening outside of these. The APMCs
are also those marketplaces where farmers can sell their
crops on Minimum Support Price, so it’s a direct threat to
the MSP as well. This act will certainly benefit the private
companies and traders as now they will not need any license
for buying, they will not have to pay the taxes to the
states for buying and it will also provide them with the
potential of regulating the prices of the agricultural
goods.

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement
on Price Assurance and Farm Services, Act

The Farmers
(Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance
and Farm Services act will clear the way for contract
farming, and now private companies will be able to make
direct contacts with the farmers. Again, there are no price
regulations for directly buying from farmers. This might
benefit the farmers in the beginning but with time,
companies will be setting up the rates as per their will and
can also influence the farmers for growing particular crops,
posing a serious threat for the indigenous
crops.

Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act,
2020

The third act Essential Commodities (Amendment),
Act 2020, removes the cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oil,
onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities.
This act will also promote hoarding of goods as it says that
stock limits can only be imposed if the retail price of
non-perishable goods (cereals, pulses, oil-seeds, etc)
increases above the average by 50% and the retail price of
perishable goods (fruits, vegetables, etc) increase above
the average by 100%.

The act is set to become a
foundation for the private companies for regulating the
prices as per their whims & fancies. The Amendment will
de-regularise the production, storage, movement, and
distribution for these food commodities, also posing a
serious threat to the food security of Indian
citizens.

The farmers have already begun protesting
nationwide, right after these were passed from the
parliament. Bhumi Adhikar Andolan vows to continue
challenging the acts and its implementation on the ground
and will also explore legal ways to challenge this since it
impinges upon the federal character and takes away the right
of the State legislatures to make the laws.

Issued
by Bhumi Adhikar Andolan
bhumiadhikarandolan@yahoo.com

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