Here’s why farmers are protesting against three agriculture ordinances

Thousands of farmers in Punjab, Haryana and several other states are on the roads to protest against three farm ordinances which were presented in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The ordinances farmers are protesting against are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.

The opposition and many farmer unions have threatened to protest till the controversial ordinances are withdrawn.

“The protest will be indefinite if the ordinances are not withdrawn. We will go to New Delhi and will be compelled to take extreme steps. The farmers are already stressed and are committing suicides every day. If these ordinances became law, they will destroy agriculture,” Sahab Singh, leader Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), said.

Why farmers are protesting

The Union government says the ordinances are pro-farmer and will provide barrier-free trade for farmers produce outside notified grain markets and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players prior to production for sale of agri-produce. But the farmer unions and opposition parties claim that the ordinances will not only phase out the MSP and the traditional grain market system but will also crush the small and marginal farmers.

Besides the farmers, the commission agents are also opposing these ordinances. They also fear that the new laws will bypass their business and they will be rendered jobless.

Interestingly, the farmers themselves want the old system to remain intact due to a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that they avail finances from the commission agents to sow the crop and return it when the product reaches the market. As the banks are hesitant to lend money to the poor farmers, they solely depend on the private money lenders and the commission agents.

“The Union government wants to crush the commission agents and the farmers by enacting the three new laws. The government’s assurance that the MSP will not be withdrawn and they will be free to sell their produce to private companies is dubious and cannot be trusted,” Preet Singh, the district president of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha said.

The biggest fear which is haunting the farmers is losing the MSP. They say farming is no more a profitable avocation and if MSP is withdrawn they will not be able to survive. Some farmers say the private players will exploit the farmers by indulging in hoarding and other malpractices.

The farm unions have expressed the apprehension that by allowing the farming agreements, the big players and companies will capture the farming which will harm the small and marginal farmers.

The farmers fear that once the private grain markets are established, the traditional grain markets will become history. The farmers will have to depend on corporations and private firms.

“These ordinances will cause irreparable damage to farming in the state. The Punjab Vidhan Sabha, in its session held on August 28, 2020, had passed a resolution to withdraw these ordinances and to ensure the continuity of the minimum support price regime by making it a statutory right of the farmers,” Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh said.

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