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Things to know about Farm Bill

What is the Agriculture Bill 2020 passed by the Parliament? It is uncertain whether most of the farmers and the general public know the details of the Agriculture Bill. The Lok Sabha passed three bills. Two of them were passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Agriculture Bill 2020 is an amalgamation of Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and Farm Services Bill and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha. They influence the agricultural market, contract farming and commodities.

Most importantly, the bill assures an ecosystem where farmers and traders can sell and buy products directly, eliminating the state-owned warehouses and public markets. The central government says that the new bill will ensure uninterrupted supply of agricultural produce across states without intermediaries, reduce marketing and transportation cost and set a stage for technology-based trade. The centre further emphasises that the new process will ensure the maximum price to the farmer. In short, the new bill is said to guarantee sales freedom, a distant dream for farmers.

However, many states including Kerala has objected the Bill citing that the exclusion of APMC would result in a revenue loss to states as well as make life difficult for commission agents.

The new bill will allow farmers to sell products to companies, retailers and exporters for an amount agreed via precontracts. This will ensure a turnover to small-time farmers with less than five hectares of land. In India, 86% of farmers own less than five hectares of land. This will enable farmers to get acquainted with the latest technologies and thereby improve their yields. Farmers’ income will increase as marketing cost decrease. The dispute resolution system would be excellent. There will be time-bound decisions. These are stipulated in the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to exclude grains, legumes, oilseeds, onions and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, will apply the stockholding limit only in emergencies such as war. With this, there will be private-foreign investments in this sector. Innovative changes will be brought into the cold storage and food distribution network. Healthy competition in the market will prevent wastage of agri products.

The centre says the bills will bring a transformation in the agricultural sector. The government promises that this will double the farmers’ income by 2022. It promises that these bills will free farmers from government-controlled markets and get better prices for their produce. The centre added that the bills are for the betterment of the farmers and will not affect the support price.

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