Three bills on market reforms, contract farming and essential commodities were passed by the lower house in the monsoon parliamentary session that began on 18th September. The cabinet had cleared these ordinances issued during the pandemic through voice vote.
The Essential Commodities Act, 2020 seeks to deregulate the stocking, production and movement of potatoes, edible oils, oil seeds, onions, cereals and pulses in a move to liberalise the farming sector and invite private investors. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) bill extends sale outside Agricultural Produce Market Committee mandis while the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill provides the framework for trade agreements for buying and selling farm produce.
These bills have been opposed by farmers from Punjab and Haryana who are likely to be significantly impacted. On Friday, Food Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Shiromani Akali Dal party had also resigned from the Union Cabinet.