Indian Farmers Protest Farm Bills

Indian farmers are protesting new bills that will decrease regulations on the agriculture sector. Since the passing of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act in 1964, farmers have had to sell their produce at government-regulated markets, known as mandis. At these markets, middlemen would help farmers sell to private or state-run companies. The new laws eliminated this requirement, allowing farmers to sell directly to any buyer anywhere in the country, where inter-state trade was previously illegal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that this will “liberate the farmers from such adversities [as middlemen]. However, many farmers, as well as experts and opposition leaders, disagree.

Additionally, the previous regulations guaranteed a minimum support price (MSP), which was the guaranteed price that the government would pay for produce. While the government says the MSP will not be scrapped, the new laws do not contain any guarantees for minimum prices for any product.

Rashpinder Singh, a farmer who spoke to Al Jazeera, said, "The government has left us at the mercy of big corporations. It is preposterous to believe that farmers who have small land-holdings will have any bargaining power over private players."

Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture told Al Jazeera:

The government['s] step to deregulate in the hope that private players will do what the government ought to be doing itself is not going to help farmers. The overall reading is that there are serious deficiencies in the way the bills have been drafted. Clearly, it’s meant for the agri-business companies and not the farmers.

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