Farm Bill 2020

In India, agriculture is regarded as a dominant sector in the country. More than 70% of the population in India is involved in the agricultural activities either directly or indirectly. We are able to eat peacefully only due to the hard work of the farmers. Though the farmers work hard in the field day and night in order to feed the country yet they are compelled to live a life of indigence and starvation. Recently in 2020, new bills for the welfare and comfort of the farmers and the agricultural sector was introduced by the Central government. However, these bills were greatly opposed by the farmers and the government of the State. There were protests against the bills on roads and streets by the farmers across the nation. A resolution was also passed by the Punjab Assembly rejecting the ordinances of Central government on 28th August 2020.

A combination of three bills together constitute the Agriculture Bill 2020 or Farm Bill 2020. These three bills were recently passed by the Parliament. These bills are: Farmers Produce and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020, Farmers Agreement (Empowerment and Protection) on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020. These bill make huge changes in the agricultural sector structurally. These bills also seemed to encourage corporate investments in the ecosystem of agriculture in order to make agriculture more benefitable to the farmers.

The Farm Bill 2020 contemplates an alternative possible way to the farmers to sell their produce in open market, providing them an opportunity to sell their products anywhere and to anyone and even get high price for it. In such areas of trade, neither agriculture produce market committee (APMC) fees nor tax by the government on transactions will be charged. The APMC would require to compete with these alternate platforms and now the farmers would have the choice to sell their produces of the farm. The farmers have the authority to sell their farm’s produce directly to the corporate or exporter purchasing in bulk from the farm. The current procurement of food grains based on minimum support price (MSP) is not obliterated by the Farm Bill 2020. The system of procurement based on MSP continues and the farmers can also sell their farm produces at Mandis on the existing MSP.

A number of schemes for the well being of the farmers as well as agricultural sector is launched every now and then by the government. The main aim behind introducing the Farm Bills was to boost the agriculture sector and double the income of farmers by 2022. It was believed that freeing the agriculture sector will consequently help in better pricing due to vast competition in the market. The corporate sector would be induced to invest in the ecosystem of agriculture as the farmers would have the choice to sell their crop products directly to the corporates and the exporters.

As the New Farm Bill 2020 provides great measures for the welfare of the farmers by giving them opportunity to sell their farm products in open market and also allowing them to fix the price according to themselves on mutual understanding of both the farmer and the corporates. Farmers are apprehensive of getting the MSP for their produce. However, the farmers do fear the domination on the agricultural sector with the power of money by the larger corporates and retailers, they also fear that the Mandies would become inessential like BSNL and MTNL future days and they also doubt that if in near future the trade shifts substantially to alternative platforms, the APMCs may become unavailable and have to shut down. No mechanism for fixation of price was prescribed under the Price Assurance Bill. The farmers were anxious about their exploitation as free hand was given to corporate houses. The Bill seemingly deregulated the movement, production, storage and distribution of essential food commodities such as edible oils, pulses, oil seeds, potatoes and onion which are removed from the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance.