Farm laws merely a ruse to subvert APMC, says plea in Supreme Court

MP says it opens the door for ‘corporate greed of multi-national companies’ to trample on agriculture market.

September 28, 2020 04:46 pm | Updated 04:47 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

Indian National Congress Member of Parliament from Kerala T.N. Prathapan on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of The Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act of 2020, saying it opened the door for “corporate greed of multi-national companies” to trample on agriculture market.

The three agriculture reform laws, which also includes The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, was approved by the President after it was passed in Parliament amid much furore. The government has pitched the laws, saying they give farmers the right to sell their produce wherever they want to and to whosoever they wish to.

But Mr. Prathapan disagreed with the government narrative in his petition, saying the laws were merely a ruse to subvert the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system.

“Without Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) acting as a protective shield around farmers, the market would ultimately fall to the corporate greed of multinational companies who are more profit oriented and have no care for the conditions of the poverty stricken farmers who are dependent on farming for their livelihood”, the petition said.

‘APMC deters exploitation’

The APMC deterred the exploitation of the farmers by providing minimum support price, its stated.

Also read: Will the farm bills benefit farmers?

“Indian agriculture is characterised by fragmentation due to small holdings and has certain inherent weaknesses beyond control such as dependence on weather, uncertainties in production and an unpredictable market," Mr. Prathapan said in his petition.

The vagaries of weather and inherent handicaps made agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input and output management. “These challenges cannot be addressed by way of monetization of the farmer’s produce to increase the farmers’ income instead strengthening the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee system by infusing more capital and effective management of Minimum Support Price is the need of the hour. The promotion of agreements for farming produce will weaken the process of monetization as per current structure of The Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020”, he submitted.

He noted that 65.53% consisted of rural population who depended on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. “Thus, the common man, agriculture and the Indian economy are umbilical to one another”, he said.

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