Maharashtra introduces Bills to amend to new farm Acts

Maharashtra government on Tuesday introduced amendment bills in State legislature to three farm acts passed by the union government.

The bill to amend Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020, presented State’s Agriculture minister Dadaji Bhuse, stated that farming agreement shall not be valid unless the price paid to farmer is equal to or greater than the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

It also proposed that the farmer and sponsor can make farming agreement below MSP with mutual consent for maximum period of two years. “For crops where MSP is not declared then they may enter in farming agreement with mutually agreed price,” it said.

It has also made the provision for punishment of imprisonment of minimum three years for harassment to the farmer.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that the draft will be open for suggestions and objections for next two months and will be finalised in the winter session of the State legislature.

State’s Co-operation minister Balasaheb Patil introduced the amendment to the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, which stated that ‘no trader shall trade in any scheduled farmers’ produce unless such trader has a valid license of competent authority.’ As per the center’s act, the only condition was to have Permanent Account Number (PAN). “There is no provision of license for trading in the trade area. There will be no any control over the trader in case of default in payment to the farmer,” said Mr Patil.

The draft bill has however clarified that ‘no license or permission is required for marketing of agricultural produce such as fruits, vegetables, condiments, spices.’

In case of dispute between farmer and trader, the parties can seek solution by filing an application to the competent authority and appeal against the competent authority to the appellate authority. As per the Centre’s Act, sub-divisional magistrate is the competent authority and collector is appellate authority to resolve the dispute.

“Considering the work load on revenue authorities, it may not be possible for them to give sufficient time to resolve the disputes,” it said. Provision of punishment of imprisonment of minimum three years and fine of ₹5 lakh has also been mentioned.

Chhagan Bhujbal, State’s Minister for Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Protection introduced an amendment to the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, making provision for the state government to regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, imposing stock limits under circumstances such as famine, price rise, natural calamity etc.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the amendments are nothing but an eyewash and the state government is taking forward the policies of the central government. “There was no need to delay the implementation of these acts in the state,” he said.

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