A special session of the Punjab assembly passed three new farm bills on Tuesday after rejecting the central government’s three controversial agricultural amendments. These laws by the Punjab assembly have come after a month of massive protests by farmers across the country, especially Punjab. The state rejected the center’s laws by a unanimous resolution but also passed three farm amendment Bills removing Punjab from the ambit of the central laws.
The Punjab government, in each of the three Bills, has claimed that the implementation of the central laws to the state is being changed to “restore the agricultural safeguards for the farmers through the regulatory framework of Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961 to secure and protect the interests and livelihoods of farmers and farm labourers as also all others engaged in agriculture and related activities”.
The three Bills state that according to the agriculture census 2015-16, 86.2 percent of farmers in the state are small and marginal, and a majority of them own less than two acres of land. Hence, they would have limited access to multiple markets, and lack the negotiation power needed to operate in a private market.
The three bills give due importance to farmers, providing them a level playing field in the form of a fair price guarantee.
The Bills also point out that farming, agricultural markets, and land is the primary legislative domain of the state.
The Bill aims to address the fears of state farmers about being forced to sell their produce at less than the minimum support price (MSP). It looks for an amendment whereby 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.
This Bill also facilitates the farmer to approach a civil court, besides seeking remedies available under the central act in case of any discrepancies with the buyer of their produce.