India Passes Farm Bills Amid Protest From Opposition Parties

India’s parliament has passed new bills the government says will make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to big buyers, despite growing protest from opposition parties and a long-time ally of the ruling party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the new laws will reform antiquated laws and remove middlemen from agriculture trade, allowing farmers to sell to institutional buyers and large retailers like Walmart. The bills also make contract farming easier by providing a new set of rules. But Modi’s food processing minister from an alliance party resigned on Thursday in protest calling the bills “anti-farmer”, and the opposition parties have said farmers’ bargaining power will be diminished by allowing retailers to have tighter control over them. Today, some opposition lawmakers raised slogans, tore documents and tried to grab the speaker’s microphone in the upper house of India’s parliament, before two controversial bills were passed by a voice vote.

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