Farm Laws and its possible drawbacks

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If one utters the word “agriculture”, India is the first country that will always click. The reason being India is one of the world’s largest producers of pulses and spices.

Agriculture has been the most important sector for the Indian economy for past years. Because it accounts for almost 18% of the GDP and provides employment to half of the population.

India is one of the first countries in which the rights of the farmers are protected under different statutes.

Recently, the country has faced various protests by the farmers against the bills which will have several possible drawbacks in the near future. 

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Legislative History

Legislative assembly

There is nothing called as farm law in India. The legislation in the pre-independence era was classified into four parts; Abolition of the intermediaries, Tenancy Reforms, Ceiling of Landholdings, and laws relating to Gramdan and Bhoodan.

In the post-independence era, the Indian government took an initiative to raise the agricultural sector by means of five-year plans.

Since then, various acts such as the Seeds Act, 1966; Insecticides Act, 1968 were launched. But the legislation which could protect the farmers’ rights was still lacking in the Indian legal system.

The first legislation which mainly protects the rights of the farmer was passed in 2001, namely, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act; this Act protects the rights of both the farmers and the breeders.  

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Recent developments In Farm Laws

Narendra Modi announcing farm bills

While the farmers of the country were still recovering from various debts caused by the on-going pandemic.

The Modi-led NDA government introduced three new bills on 14th September 2020 which further added to their misery.

Right after the introduction of these bills, the country faced various protests by the farmers along with the opposition.

But they did not attain any outcome and all three bills were passed and assented by President Kovind. As of now, the following three bills have been converted into laws:  

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The Farmers’ Produce and Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020

The common name of this act is the “Mandi Bypass Act”. It intends to create an environment where the framers are free to sell their produce. Beyond the traditionally created markets or markets notified by the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee (APMC) called mandis. Where traders can purchase the farmer’s produce from any market. 

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020

Another name of this act is the “Contract Farming Act”. It enables the farmers to enter into a contract with almost all the middlemen of the economic sector. Middlemen include wholesaler, processor, exporter, retailer, etc. for selling their produce at a price agreed while entering into the contract. 

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020

The essential commodity amendment act

This Act is the new version of the already existing Essential Commodities Act of 1955. This act changed the status of hoarding and black-marketing of commodities like wheat and pulses from illegal to legal. 

Implications of farm laws

Farmers protesting against farm laws

As soon as the news about the new farm bills started escalating across the country, the farmers from most of the regions started hitting the roads, blocking the highways, railway tracks as a gesture to show their anger.

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To oppose, protest against these bills, and particularly to stop these bills from being converted into laws by the Parliament. In the opinion of farmers, traders, state governments, and opposition parties all three farm bills have grave repercussions.

It will become impossible for the farmers especially those operating in small and marginal areas to recover.    

minimum support price

The Farmers’ Produce bill will probably mark an end to the Minimum Support Price System (MSP). MSP was the reason for the majority of the small-scale farmers to rely upon agriculture as an occupation.

This law will also give access to private companies for exploiting them. The Price Assurance and Services bill will further weaken the farmers in whole and their courage.

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As farmers can’t afford to go to the courts and spend their income for dispute settlement arising out of a contract.

The third bill is an amendment along with affecting the consumers. That has given the authority to large corporates to make huge profits by hoarding the farm produce at the lowest price available. And leaving the farmers with a meagre income to fulfil their basic necessities. 

Critical analysis Into the First Farm Law

Critical analysis of farm laws

The new farm bills introduced by the central government have more loopholes than the benefits intended to provide.

Firstly, the Farmers’ Produce and Trade and Commerce Bill, which intends to promote barrier-free trade and trade markets within the country.

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Further introduces a platform for e-marketing all the agricultural produce will cause an unexpected loss in the near future.

States will lose the number of fees that they used to collect as “mandi fees”. This will lead to a major decline in state revenue.

The concept of commission agents will totally disappear from the agricultural market. More importantly, the system of MSP protected the farmers from price fluctuations by providing assured markets with minimum price will also come to an end in the long run.

Loopholes in 2nd Farm Law

Woes of a farmer

Secondly, the Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill which introduced contract-based business for the farmers.

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This will be a huge failure and will further add to the sufferings of farmers. It is a known truth that the majority of the farmers of the country are illiterate and small-scale farmers; they hardly earn their daily bread; then for what reasons the central government is expecting them to enter into legal contracts? Which will further add to their cost.

This bill will end up in the exploitation of the majority of the farmers by large corporates. As they don’t stand a chance in front of big private companies. They can afford to pay large sums of fees to the topmost lawyers. 

Analysis of 3rd Farm Law

Deals in big corporates

Lastly, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill which legalized hoarding of stocks will affect both the farmers and consumers. S

mall-scale farmers do not have the capacity to hoard large amounts of agricultural produce. Whereas corporates like Adani can afford it, providing them with an upper hand.

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On one hand, it will be the farmers who will sell their produce at the lowest price. But on the other, the consumers will pay high prices for the same products. And private companies will enjoy the difference between the prices. 

Conclusion

To sum up, an economy like India largely depends upon the farmers; where the farmers are even worshipped as God never expected such farm laws which will hit them hard, both financially and emotionally.

It would be wrong to say that the working class of the country will be affected by the new farm laws. But it will surely affect the population which had farming as the only occupation going on for generations.

If such farm laws continue to operate, then that time is not so far, when countries like India will start importing rather than exporting wheat and other agricultural produce.  

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