The Centre says the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, would benefit farmers and reform the sector. The first bill aims to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade in agriculture produce, the second to allow farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers and exporters directly and the third to ‘liberalise’ the regulatory environment for farmers, according to government officials.
The UPA government had in 2004 started persuading states to adopt the Model APMC Act, 2003, and formulated the model APMC rules in 2007. In 2013, a committee it set up recommended the Agricultural Produce Inter-State Trade and Commerce (Development & Regulation), Bill, for barrier-free markets. The law ministry prepared a draft bill that, however, was not pursued.
“Congress in its manifesto in 2019 said it will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s Act and make the trade in agriculture produce-including export and inter-state trade-free from restrictions,” a government official, who did not wish to be named, said.
Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Odisha under SAD, AIADMK and BJD, respectively, have passed farming acts while many other states have made provisions for contract farming under the state APMC Act.