New farm acts: understanding the implications
The three new farm acts legislated by the Government of India have been widely acclaimed at home and abroad as historical and long overdue. However, some experts, states, and stakeholders, including farmers, have been protesting against them and seeking their withdrawal. This paper presents the context and significant reasons for undertaking these policy reforms and describes the sequence of efforts made by successive Central governments for about the past two decades to persuade states to adopt the reforms. Drawing from the actual contents and spirit of the three acts, the paper discusses at length how APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committees) markets, MSP (Minimum Support Price), farmers, and the rural economy will be impacted by the new policy environment. It also addresses the concerns raised by farmers’ leaders and critics. The paper finds that the new acts take forward the unfinished agenda of reforms started in 1991 and the fragmented, piecemeal, and patchy reforms undertaken across states to their ultimate culmination. The paper addresses apprehensions about the new acts so that the underlying reform process is implemented in various states with their appropriate understanding. The paper also gives reasons for expecting the new acts to achieve the goal of taking Indian agriculture to new heights and ushering in the transformation of the rural economy.