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    All you need to know about agriculture reform Bills and why farmers are against them

    All you need to know about agriculture reform Bills and why farmers are against them

    All you need to know about agriculture reform Bills and why farmers are against them
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    By Yashi Gupta   IST (Published)

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    The Union Government says that the bills are pro-farmer. At the same time, the farmers argue over the fact the eventual phasing out of MSP does not work out in their favor, nor does the eradication of the traditional grain market system.CNBC-TV18 spoke to Siraj Hussain, the former Agricultural Secretary, to clarify whether the bill is pro-farmer or anti-farmer. He explained, "For states where agriculture infrastructure is weak, this bill may help the farmers because more investments will be made in supply chain and in setting up of more warehouses. However, in certain states like Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, where the marketing system is very well developed, and the state governments have invested a huge amount of money, farmers feel that it is a step towards dismantling the minimum support price (MSP) regime, Hussain explained."

    Amid the showdown in Parliament and the resignation of Shiromani Akali Dal's lone Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Lok Sabha passed Farm Bills as historic reforms in the agriculture sector on September 17.
    Even as farmer organisations continued to protest against the Bill, here's a look at what is causing the controversy.
    What are the Bills?
    Two Bills were passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday -- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and The Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
    The first is on agricultural market reforms, while the second is about contract farming provisions. A third Bill on amending Essential Commodities Act was passed on Tuesday.
    Together, the three Bills will replace ordinances passed earlier by the Rajya Sabha.
    About the bills
    The agri market reforms Bill will allow farmers the freedom to sell their produce outside mandis registered under the state Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
    The Bill would promote barrier-free inter, and intra-state trade of farm produce, ideally, without threatening the existing structure.
    The second Bill gives farmers a chance to get into direct contractual agreement with buyers to reduce market predictability, eliminate intermediaries and boost farmers' income.
    The Bills intend to facilitate a framework for electronic trading for farmers.
    Despite the opposition, the farmers stand to gain more choices to sell their produce according to these legislations.
    Why is there opposition to the Bills?
    The Opposition is raising issues such as the subsequent end of minimum support price (MSP) regime, the irrelevance of state-controlled APMC, reduction in the price of farm produce due to market domination by big agribusinesses and exploitation of farmers by big contractors.
    Moreover, the states stand to lose their revenue since they won't collect mandi fees if farmers sell their produce outside registered APMC markets.
    Political parties and farm organisations such as Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) are vehemently opposing the Bills stating these reasons.
    The farmers are opposing the 'The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill because it eradicates the commission system, and while it works in favour of farmers, they argue that commission agents have credibility as their financial status is verified during the license approval process.
    Moreover, they have stated that no consultations were held with farm organisations on the Bill. They said that even a virtual consultation or discussion of the subject on PM Narendra Modi's Mann Ki Baat would have helped them understand the nuances of the Bill.
    Farmers also fear that the sector might become corporatised, leading them to have no say over their operations. Effectively, farmers are asking for safeguards in the Bill.
    The state governments of Punjab and Haryana will be affected by the Bills since they stand to lose 'mandi' tax that adds to their revenue.
    Is the law against states and farmers?
    The Union Government has claimed that the Bills are pro-farmer. At the same time, farmers argue over the fact that the the eventual phasing out of MSP does not work in their favour, nor does the eradication of the traditional grain market system.
    CNBC-TV18 spoke to Siraj Hussain, former Agricultural Secretary to clarify whether the Bill is pro- or anti-farmer. He explained, "For states where agriculture infrastructure is weak, this Bills may help farmers because more investments will be made in supply chain and in setting up warehouses."
    However, her pointed out that in states like Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh, where the marketing system is very well developed, and the state governments have invested a huge amount of money, farmers feel that it is a step towards dismantling the minimum support price (MSP) regime.
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