Agriculture bills passed in Lok Sabha, farmers protest: All you need to know
The Lok Sabha, through voice vote, passed two controversial legislations on Thursday-- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The Lower House also passed Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill earlier.
The three bills will now be tabled in Rajya Sabha and become laws after the Upper House also passes them.
Moving the bills in the House, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured all members that famers will be able to get better prices for their produce and the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system will continue.
Opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress and Revolutionary Socialist Party opposed the bills on the grounds that they were “anti-farmer”. Meanwhile, minister of food processing industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned over the passage of these bills.
Here is all you need to know:
1. According to the government, the reforms will accelerate agricultural growth through private sector investment in building agricultural infrastructure and supply chains for Indian farm produce in national and global markets.
2. The bills are aimed at creating employment opportunities and strengthening the economy.
3. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the bills will not override Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts of the states.
4. The bills will promote a barrier-free, inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations, a government release said, calling the passage of these bills a “historic-step” in unlocking the regulated agriculture markets in the country.
5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also praised the passage of bills and said they will free the farmers of middlemen and other bottlenecks.
6. Farmers in Punjab have organised a three-day protest against the bills. They will stage a ‘rail roko’ agitation across the state from September 24-26, a farmers’ body said. Despite reassurances from the government, farmers believe that the bills will render the current MSP procurement system ineffective, leaving them at the mercy of “big farmers”.
7. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the only Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) representative in the Modi government, tendered her resignation as the Union minister for food processing industries to protest the “anti-farmer” bills. Her resignation was accepted on Friday by the President. Narendra Singh Tomar was given the charge of the food processing industries ministry.
8. SAD chief and Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s husband Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the party opposed the legislations but said it will continue to be a part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).