Farm laws herald a new era of market freedom: Survey

Farm laws ‘herald a new era’ of market freedom, says Economic Survey

The survey also said that the newly introduced farm laws ‘herald a new era’ of market freedom which can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Credit: PTI Photo

The much talked about topic ‘fam laws’ also featured in the Economic Survey 2020-21. The Survey strongly defended new farm laws, saying they herald a new era of market freedom which can go a long way in improving the lives of small and marginal farmers in India.

“There is a need for a paradigm shift in how we view agriculture from a rural livelihood sector to a modern business enterprise. In this context, both production and post-production in agriculture need urgent reforms to enable sustainable and consistent growth,” said the Economic Survey.

The Economic Survey 2020-21, authored by a team led by Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Venkata Subramanian, detailed the state of different sectors of the economy as well as reforms that should be undertaken to accelerate growth.

Supporting the three agricultural reforms, the Survey also stated that the laws have been designed and intended primarily to benefit small and marginal farmers which constitute 85 per cent of the total number of farmers and are the "biggest sufferers of the regressive APMC regulated market regime".

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It further went on to say that the newly-introduced farm laws ‘herald a new era’ of market freedom which can go a long way in the improvement of farmer welfare in India.

The pre-budget document defended the farm laws in the backdrop of long-running farmers' agitation at various borders of the national capital seeking repeal of these legislations, expressing concern that they are pro-corporate and could weaken government-regulated mandis, also called Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs).

"Several Economic Surveys have expressed concern at the functioning of the APMCs and the fact that they sponsor monopolies. Specifically, Economic Surveys for the years 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17, 2019-20 focused on the reforms required in this context," the Survey noted.

The suggestions on the marketing of agricultural produce include the need to provide a choice to the farmers to sell their products directly to a processing factory or the private sector, development of agriculture marketing infrastructure, amendment of the State APMC Acts and the Essential Commodities Act to ensure barrier-free storage and movement of agricultural commodities, it said.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 The Essential Commodities(Amendment) Act, 2020 -- are the three key legislations passed by Parliament in September 2020.

According to the survey, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 will empower farmers in their engagement with processors, wholesalers, aggregators, large retailers, exporters and will provide a level playing field. It will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs.

Farmers have been provided adequate protection as sale, lease or mortgage of farmers’ land is totally prohibited and farmers’ land is also protected against any recovery. The farmers will have full power in the contract to fix a sale price of their choice for the produce, the survey added.

The Economic Survey was tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament amid the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three farm laws.

The Survey, which comes just ahead of the Union Budget for the new fiscal year that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to present on Monday, also forecast a V-shaped economic recovery.

(With PTI inputs)