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Punjab’s Three New Farm Bills 

Punjab’s Three New Farm Bills 

Context:

A special session of the Punjab Assembly rejected the laws by a unanimous resolution and passed three farm amendment Bills removing Punjab from the ambit of the central laws.

Details:

  • The Punjab government has claimed that the application of central laws to the state is being changed to restore the agricultural safeguards for the farmers through the regulatory framework of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961.
  • It aims to secure and protect the interests and livelihoods of farmers and farm laborers as also all others engaged in agriculture and related activities.
  • The three Bills mention the agriculture census 2015-16 to underline that 86.2 percent of farmers in the state are small and marginal, with the majority owning less than two acres of land.

Significance:

  • All three Bills underscore the importance of farmers getting a level playing field in the form of a fair price guarantee.
  • The Bills also point out that agriculture, agricultural markets, and the land are the primary legislative domain of the state.

Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020:

  • The Bill seeks to address the fears of state farmers about being forced to sell their produce at less than the minimum support price (MSP).
  • The amendment provided that the sale of wheat and paddy shall be valid only if the seller pays a price equal to or greater than the MSP announced by the central government.
  • It states that any person or company or corporate house will be punished with imprisonment of not less than three years and a fine if he signs a contract wherein the farmer is compelled to sell his produce at less than the MSP.
  • The Bill also allows the farmer to approach a civil court, besides seeking remedies available under the central act in case of any differences with the buyer of his produce.

Key amendments:

  • One of the direct consequences of the central Act will be to nullify the MSP mechanism, this Bill also provides for punishment to sellers who buy wheat or paddy at less than the MSP.
  • It declares the status quo in the state with regard to the APMC Act 2016.
  • The Bill ensures that the private players will also be regulated by the rules of government mandis and they will have to procure licenses and pay the market fees to buy produce from the state.
  • The Bill also states that no punitive action will be taken against anyone for violating the provisions of the central Act.

Source: Indian Express