Why farmers across India are protesting Farm Bills

Explainer: Why farmers across India are protesting the Farm Bills

 Members of various farmers' organizations on their way to stage a protest against the central government over agriculture related ordinances, in Patiala. Credit: PTI

To relieve farmers from their burden, the government introduced three ordinances before the Parliament Session. Two of these Bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha. These ‘reforms’ were to uplift the agriculture and farming sector, however, the peasants across the country have taken to the streets, protesting against these new ordinances.

What are the three ordinances?

The new reforms include The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

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What do these three reforms tackle?

While two ordinances are yet to be passed in the Lok Sabha, one has already been approved. The present law eliminates the middleman, allowing the farmer to sell his produce to consumers at a negotiable price. This puts the middleman at risk as they run the mandi or the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). 

Since these reforms benefit the farmer, why is there an uproar?

Farmers in Haryana and Punjab have expressed dissent because of the uncertainty regarding the future of Minimum Support Price (MSP). The government has a massive procurement programme wherein large quantities of grain are bought at the MSP.

In the previous crop-season, the government purchased about five million tonnes from Punjab, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Also Read: Monsoon Session: Rajya Sabha passes Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce Bill

The farmers were paid Rs 1840 per quintal, and the state government taxed the total value at 8.5 per cent.

Certain states like Punjab depend on the APMC revenue, so if the system is removed, the farmer will have no assurance of earning a minimum price from produce sale. Only after the government has procured its due share through the mandi, will the farmer receive full price.

How will the government implement the MSP system?

The Modi-led government have not yet drawn up plans on how the MSP system will function. However, the Prime Minister and his cabinet have assured the farmers that the MSP will continue.

What happened in Punjab and why did Harsimrat Kaur Badal resign?

Farmers across Punjab and Haryana claim that this move will 'corporatise' the agriculture sector, furthering their financial disadvantage.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s filed her resignation from PM Narendra Modi's Cabinet on September 18, as a sign of protest over the three ordinances.