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What are the new Agri Bills and why farmers are unhappy

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The passage of three agriculture-related Bills in the Lok Sabha does not seem to have gone down well with farmers and the opposition parties, with farmers across Haryana, Punjab and Telangana erupting in protest. A look at what the Bills are and why farmers are unhappy: 

What are the three Bills?
The Centre passed three Bills — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

What does the government say about the Bills?
The government claims the legislations will transform the sector and raise farmers’ income. The Centre had promised to double farmers’ income by 2022. It says the Bills will make farmers independent of government-controlled markets and fetch them a better price for their produce.

What are the new provisions in the three Bills?
The Bills propose to create a system where farmers and traders can sell and purchase products outside ‘mandis’. They also encourage intra-state trade and propose to reduce transportation cost. The Bills formulate a framework on agreements that enables farmers to engage with agri-business companies, exporters and retailers for services and sale of produce while giving the farmer access to modern technology.

They provide benefits for small and marginal farmers with less than five hectares of land. The Bills also provide for removal of items such as cereals and pulses from the list of essential commodities and attract FDI.

What are the farmers’ concerns?
Farmers are apprehensive about getting Minimum Support Price for their produce. Other concerns include the upper hand of agri-businesses and big retailers in negotiations, thus putting farmers at a disadvantage. The benefits for small farmers from companies are likely to reduce the engagement of sponsors with them. The farmers also fear that the companies may dictate prices of the commodities. 

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