ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Missing Links in Farm Bills

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This is in response to the editorial “Bills of Contention” (EPW, 26 September 2020). It brought out certain contentious issues in the three farm bills passed during the monsoon session of Parliament by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by the majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The main issues dealt with in
the editorial are to what extent these bills are going to benefit the small and marginal farmers, procurement concerns, potential decline of the role of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) and other intermediaries, silence on the fixation of the minimum support price (MSP), and subversion of democratic procedures. No doubt, all these issues are critical in reforming the agricultural market system. However, it missed out a few crucial aspects from the substantive rather than the procedural viewpoint of effective implementation.

The passage of the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act (hereafter FPAFSA), 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act (hereafter FPTCA), 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act (ECA), 2020 led to the protests in the country by the farmers’ associations and organisations. Politically, the bills disturbed the relationship of the BJP with their coalition partners and opposition parties. The passage of these bills needs to be seen as a continuation of the BJP’s reforms agenda in the domains of land, labour, capital and technology.

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