Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the repeal of the three farm laws, it’s worth taking a quick look at why the legislation has sparked such vehement protests. And let’s also understand why farmers won’t end their protests anytime soon:
What three farm laws will the government be repealing?
Agricultural Trade and Trade (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020; the Farmers’ Agreement (Empowerment and Protection) Law on Price Insurance and Agricultural Services, 2020; and the Essential Products (Amendment) Law of 2020.
Described as long-awaited reforms by the Modi government, the laws allow farmers to sell their harvest directly to private actors and to enter into farming contracts with private companies. Prior to the laws, farmers could only sell their products in the Agricultural Commodity Market Committee (APMC) markets managed by the government through intermediaries. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, allows traders to stock essential food items, which was previously illegal.
Read also: How farmers, organized and well funded, confronted Modi
The laws seem to benefit farmers. Why were they upset then?
Farmers fear that agricultural sector reforms will lead to the abolition of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime and end the APMC markets. Under the MSP regime, the government buys agricultural products at a predetermined price. The MSP guarantees farmers a certain price, regardless of supply and demand constraints. The farmers demanded a law to guarantee the purchase of agricultural products from the MSP. They also want the government to abolish the changes to the Electricity Act.
Haven’t the new laws opened up new avenues for farmers to sell their products?
They did, but farmers feared the new pathways would weaken demand in traditional APMC markets and force them to sell at prices below the MSP.
Read also: Repealed agricultural laws: change of mind or strategic withdrawal?
What was the problem with the law on contract farming?
Farmers fear this will lead to the corporatization of agriculture and ultimately move them away from agriculture. The sale of agricultural products is said to be tied by contracts, rendering the MSP regime ineffective, they say. The law allowed farmers to make a direct deal with the buyer before the sowing season and sell their produce at the price agreed upon when the contract was signed.
What about the changes to the Essential Commodities Act?
Farmers fear that removing stock limits on food products could lead to indiscriminate storage by large corporations who could potentially manipulate markets.
Also Read: After Repeal of Farm Laws, Farmers Now Require Legal Coverage for MSP; protests continue
Why don’t farmers end their protests?
Farmers now want a law to ensure the purchase of agricultural products from the MSP, which they say was an integral part of the current turmoil. They also want the penalty clause to be removed from the Law on Combating the Practice of Thatch Burning which Causes Air Pollution in Parts of North India, Particularly in the National Capital Region. , during the winter.
How will the government repeal the laws?
The government will now have to propose separate bills to the Lok Sabha to repeal the laws. It could simply allow bills to be repealed without any discussion. If the opposition insists on a debate, the winter session will see a series of government disparagement, which the Treasury banks will have to endure because they agreed to repeal the laws.
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