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Farm bills- Boon or Bane on Farmers?

Abstract 

This research paper focuses on explaining the newly enacted farm bills. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The acts came into force on the 5th of June 2020. All these acts are explained and analysed in this research paper. The research paper aims to explain the benefits that the farmers may gain by the enactment of the bills. By the end of this research, I would analyse and conclude whether these bills are beneficial to the farmers. 

INTRODUCTION

India has always been an agriculturally strong country. The agriculture sector accommodated a huge workforce in the agriculture sector. Lack of farmers’ welfare and the increase in the number of farmer suicides was a serious problem in India for decades. The legislature recently passed The three bills include the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill. Two of them are newly passed and the essentials commodities act,1955 was amended. These three bills received huge national attention. These bills were initially ordinances and were finally discussed in the house in the monsoon sessions. 
 
 

1.2 RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

This research paper talks about farm bills. It aims at explaining the acts individually and collectively. The research paper explains the views of various scholars on the legislatures. It also explains on the benefits that the farmers may gain by the enactment of this bill. 
 

1.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM

The research problem is to determine whether the bills are aiming to deliver any benefits to the farmers and if the farmers are gaining benefits by this enactment. 

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

What are the three different acts and why have they gained huge media and public attention?
What is the objective behind the enactment of these bills?
What benefits do farmers gain due to the enactment of these bills? 
 

1.3 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS:

Farm bills have an objective to benefit the farmers and save them from being exploited by the middlemen. They end up gaining hardly any benefits and often fall under the trap of money lenders and fall this cycle. The bills have aimed to bring a solution to this problem of the farmers. 
 

1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This research paper covers the explanation of all the three bills separately and collectively. It will explain the reasons behind the bills gaining huge public attention and the benefits that farmers will gain due to the introduction and enactment of these bills. 
 

1.5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The descriptive, analytical, and critical methodology is followed while making the research paper. Books, journals, websites, etc. are referred to in the process of preparation of the research paper.

CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS:  
 

2.1 THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 came to force on the 5th of Jun 2020. The Bill allows the central government to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances such as war and famine by inserting the Sec.2[1].

THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1955 talks about recognition of certain commodities as essential and regulate their prices to avoid burden on consumers because these essential goods have less demand or infect are completely inelastic to the price of the products. The government makes a list of these essential products and the government can add more items to the list when they become essential. The objective is to give the producers and farmers and the consumers benefits and see that there is no exploitation. They also prevent the retailers and producers from storing the stock of these products and releasing them into the market for sales when the prices of these goods increase. This will lead to an effect on the economy. The act protects both consumers and farmers from being exploited by the middlemen. The act aims to enhance and increase the income of the farmers. It says that the storage of goods including pulses, vegetables, onion, etc.. can be done only during emergencies like droughts and famines. This is also regulated to an extent. According to the act” the supply of such foodstuffs, including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, may be regulated only under extraordinary circumstances which may include war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity of grave nature;” and “(b) any action on imposing stock limit shall be based on price rise and order for regulating stock limit of any agricultural produce may be issued under this Act only if there is— (i) hundred percent. increase in the retail price of horticultural produce; or (ii) fifty percent. increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs, over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or average retail price of last five years, whichever is lower:” This shows that action for extradentary prices Is taken for the regulation of stock limit may by with the conditions as explained. This has some conditions that explain stock limit will not apply to a processor or value chain participant who is involved in agricultural produce if the stock limit of the person will not exceed the ceiling capacity of processing or the demand for export in case of an exporter. 

2.2 THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020
Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 came into force on the 5th day of June 2020. The act explains the definitions of farmers’ produce, electronic trading and transaction platform, farmer, farmer producer organization, inter-State trade, intra-State trade, notification, person, prescribed, scheduled farmers’ produce, State, State APMC Act, trade area and trader under the Sec.2[2] of this act. Farmers’ produce is sold in the Mandi’s set up by APMC(Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees.) The states have enacted many APMC acts and are regulated accordingly to help farmers get enough prices or income for their produce. It was understood that very few farmers and traders trade in these Mandi’s and this will reduce the competition in the market. According to these acts, farmers cannot sell their produce anywhere except in these Mandis. In these mandis, farmers are often exploited by the middle man and are given a less price. This led to non-fulfillment of the objective of the state acts. 
This ordinance is enacted to give the farmers freedom and liberty and prevent them from being exploited. It aims to bring a solution to the problem stated above. This act gives farmers the ability to sell their produce anywhere including the factory premises, warehouses, farm gates, silos, etc. They can also sell their products to people, companies, corporations, cooperatives, etc. This gives farmers a Wide range of market choices to choose from. They are also allowed to implement practices like contract farming etc. 
This ordinance prohibits states from charging fees or cess or levy under any State APMC Act or any other State law according to Sec.6[3] of this ordinance. 

Every trader who transacts with farmers shall make payment for the traded scheduled farmers produce on the same day or within the maximum three working days if procedurally so required subject to the condition that the receipt of delivery mentioning the due payment amount shall be given to the farmers on the same day according to the Sec.3[4]. 
Any person (other than an individual), having a PAN number or such other document as notified by the Central Government or any farmer producer organization can operate in electronic trading and transaction platform for facilitating interstate or intra-State trade and commerce of scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area as explained under Sec.5[5]. 
The bill aims at providing other such benefits to the farmers. 

2.2 THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020
Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 came into force on the 5th June 2020. The act explains the definitions of APMC yard, company, electronic trading and transaction platform, farm services, farmer, Farmer Producer Organisation, farming agreement, trade, and commerce agreement, production agreement, farming produce, firm, force majeure, notification, person, prescribed, Registration Authority, Sponsor and State under the Sec.2[6] of this act. This act explains a framework for contract farming. Contract farming is a practice in which the farmers enter into a contract with the food processing units before the production. This keeps the farmers safe. And away from exploitation by eliminating the middlemen. These contracts include certain terms and conditions for the supply of such products, including the time of supply, quality, grade, standards, price, and other matters and terms related to the supply of farm services. Only if the responsibility for the compliance of legal requirement for providing such farm services shall be with the Sponsor or the farm service provider as explained under Sec.3[7]of the act. This helps the farmers reduce the risk of fluctuating prices and also gives the buyers the ability to be assured about the number of raw materials that they require in food processing and production. A spencer is a person or company or agency who enters into such agreement with the farmers to buy the product from the. To ensure the legality of these contracts there will be an established registration authority set up by the state governments. The minimum period of the farming agreement will be for one crop season or one production cycle of livestock and the maximum period can be up to five years. 

The central government will issue guidelines that it may deem fit. The agreements made must include certain aspects like the price to be paid, the quantity to be supplied, the quality of the product, etc. The sorcerer may pay not less than two-thirds of the agreed amount at the time of delivery and the remaining amount after due certification, but not later than thirty days of delivery as according to Sec.6[8] of this act. Agreements cannot be entered for transfer, sale, or mortgage of the land or in any manner that may affect the farmers as according to Sec.8[9] of the Act. 

The act also talks about dispute resolution mechanisms and explains that the agreements must have a conciliation process and the formation of a conciliatory board with representatives from both parties. The parties can further approach a magistrate for the Dispute resolution as per Sec.13 and Sec.14 of the act. Civil courts do not have jurisdiction in matters related to this as per Sec.19. The act has provisions relating to the same under this act. 

ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION 

All the three farm bills that came into force on the 5th June 2020 are enacted with a bona fide objective to benefit the farmers across India. There has been various protest across the country and this issue gained a lot of attention in both media and social media. The bills have however aimed to benefit the farmers in various ways. The government has tried to benefit the farmers in all the ways possible including economic, technological, financial, etc. The bills have to the most extent tried to benefit the farmers and save them from the exploitation of other traders and middlemen. They have opened various options for the farmers increasing their scope to be able to sell. They have tried to help the farmers to come out of the debt cycle. 

“We can have any kind of agriculture we want if we choose the right agricultural policies.” This was a frequent statement of Harold Breimyer, one of the most respected agricultural economists in the U.S. during the last half of the 20th century.[10] It is therefore really important to have the right kinds of agriculture bills because it is the most important activity. 
It is important for us to recognize that farming is not just an occupation, it is the way of our life and the reason behind our life and farmer is one of the most important persons of our life and it is our duty to protect them. The legislature has taken an important step towards helping the farmers. 

REFERENCES   

THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020 (GAZETTE)
THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020 (GAZETTE)
THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020 (GAZETTE)
http://legislative.gov.in/
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.
 

  [1] Sec.2 of THE ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2020
[2] Sec.2of THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020
[3] Sec.6 of THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020
[4] Sec.3 of THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020
[5] Sec.5 of THE FARMERS’ PRODUCE TRADE AND COMMERCE (PROMOTION AND FACILITATION) BILL, 2020
[6] Sec.2 of THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020.
[7] Sec.3 of THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020
[8] Sec.6 of THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020
[9] Sec.8 of THE FARMERS (EMPOWERMENT AND PROTECTION) AGREEMENT ON PRICE ASSURANCE AND FARM SERVICES ACT, 2020
[10] Ikerd, John. (2018). A Farm Bill for the Agriculture We Want. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 8. 1-4. 10.5304/jafscd.2018.082.001.

AUTHOR

K S S Tanmayi
(School of law, Presidency University)

1 thought on “Farm bills- Boon or Bane on Farmers?”

  1. It would’ve been great if you also analysed the problems which the farmers are facing. Are those the real problems or just an act of misrepresentation. If the problems are genuine, what should be the way forward.

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