The Congress which is opposing the reforms to the Agricultural Reform Bills by Modi govt, in its 2019 manifesto had mentioned how they would "repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s Act and make trade in agriculture produce-including export and inter-state trade-free from all restrictions".
On 5th June 2020 3 ordinances were passed for the for benefit of farmers and to transform the agriculture sector. On 14th September 2020, 3 bills were introduced to replace these ordinances. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Bill, 2020 benefits the farmers is several ways:
- Freedom to sell & purchase
- Remunerative prices
- Barrier-free inter-State & intra-State trade
- Farmer trade outside physical premises of State APMC legislations
- Electronic trading
In its 2019 manifesto, Congress had mentioned how they would "repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s Act and make trade in agriculture produce-including export and inter-state trade-free from all restrictions".
Just before 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress publicly announced that Congress ruled states should de-notify fruits & vegetables from the APMC Act. In pursuance, Congress ruled states of Karnataka, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalya & Haryana de-notified Fruits & Vegetables!
After coming into power in 2004, Congress-led UPA govt started persuading with states to adopt the Model APMC Act 2003 to liberalize state agricultural marketing laws. UPA govt also formulated the Model APMC Rules 2007 for implementation of Model APMC Act. UPA constituted ‘Committee of State Ministers, In-charge of Agriculture Marketing to Promote Reforms’ under Harshvardhan Patil, then Minister for Cooperation & Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Maharashtra. In 2013 the committee proposed the following bill for barrier free markets:
The Planning Commission in its 2011 report also over mulled the policy option of enacting an “Inter-State Agriculture Produce Trade and Commerce Regulation Act” under entry 42 (Inter-State Trade and Commerce) of the Union list. In April 2011, the then Cabinet Secretary while considering the Note for COS suggested to promote Inter-State Trade & Commerce of agriculture produce across States/UTs through the instrument of Central Legislation. Guess who was in power? Congress-led UPA!
In pursuance, DAC in consultation with Ministry of Law prepared draft Bill titled as “Agricultural Produce Inter State Trade & Commerce (Development and Regulation) Bill 2012”. However, it was not pursued further. Congress also wanted barrier free trade of agriculture produce!! The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 benefits the farmers is several ways:
- National framework on farming agreements
- Protects and empowers farmers against firms etc
- Sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price
Contract farming has been in practice for many decades in India in various States which benefits the farmers with:
- Better marketing linkage
- Access to new technology
- Protection from market volatility
- Private invt in the supply chain & overall agricultural sector
- Better quality products
Contract farming has been recognized as a chief enabler in various reports of the Planning Commission & has been implemented by several states under the State APMC Acts. The 11th Five Year Plan, 2007–12, released during the tenure of Congress-led UPA govt, mentions:
In the Planning Commission report XII Five Year Plan 2012-17, it mentions “There's a need to promote both pvt invt & alternative marketing channels to improve marketing system of agri produce by way of direct marketing contract farming & setting up of markets in pvt & co-op sectors, e-trading, etc“. While discussing ‘Issues in Expanding Agricultural Marketing and Processing’, the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) prepared by Planning Commission during UPA years states:
Haryana (2007, INC), Karnataka (2003, INC), Maharashtra (2006, INC-NCP), MP (2003, INC), Odisha (2006, BJD), & others made provisions for contract farming under state APMC Act. Punjab (2013, SAD), Tamil Nadu (2019, AIADMK), Odisha (2020, BJD) passed separate Contract Farming Acts.
PepsiCo worked with Punjab farmers in 1980s for pulping tomatoes & made Tropicana juice with orange farmers. From 1987-92, Punjab was under President’s Rule i.e. run by Central govt. Congress was in power or V. P. Singh & Chandra Shekhar. 1992-97 Congress came back in Punjab!
Haryana govt had started contract farming scheme in 2007 under INC Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda. The CM handed over the 1st registration certificate to SAB Miller India, which had launched the scheme in 3 districts of Haryana for Barley.
In 2003 PepsiCo initiated procurement of potatoes via contract farming in West Bengal over 600 ha. land. By 2011 there was almost four-fold increase in area. Similarly onions in Maharashtra, cucumber in Karnataka, Barley in Rajasthan etc. are other examples in contract farming!
Different states have encouraged contract farming as per local requirement at different time periods. It was adopted by different political parties during their tenure. Why are the same parties opposing the reforms brought by Modi government now?
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has the following benefits:
- Freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute & supply will result in economies of scale
- Attract pvt sector/FDI in agriculture sector
- Eliminate fears of excessive regulatory interference on operations by pvt investors
In 2019 Lok Sabha Elections Manifesto, Congress promised to replace the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 by an enabling law that can be invoked only in case of emergencies. The Mid Term Appraisal of Eleventh Five Year Plan during UPA years suggests reforming the 'archaic' APMC Act & abolishing the Essential Commodities Act to 'trigger private sector investment'!
UPA constituted ‘Committee of State Ministers, In-charge of Agriculture Marketing to Promote Reforms’ under chairmanship of Harshvardhan Patil, then Minister for Cooperation & Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of Maharashtra. In its 2013 report it spoke of Essential Commodities Act:
Planning Commission in its 2011 report 2011 also mentioned about reduction of list of commodities from the purview of Essential Commodities Act & recommended imposition of trade & marketing restrictions only during the emergency. Congress & their lackeys have been vehemently opposing the pro-farmer reforms inside & outside the parliament.
From the above thread it is pretty clear that Congress’ actions are totally opposite of their past actions & they're protesting #AgricultureBills just for the sake of it
(The article is a compilation of the thread by @knowthenation)