Polish farmers commence mass protests over dumping of cheap Ukrainian grain

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Polish farmers commenced a three-day protest on Wednesday as they sought to block the Hrubieszów railway crossing on the Polish-Ukrainian border in protest of the volume of cheap Ukrainian grain currently being imported into Poland.

Members of Agrounia, a Polish conservative agrarian union, congregated at 10 a.m. to voice their displeasure at the perceived inefficiency of the Law and Justice (PiS) government to ensure that Ukrainian grain is being re-exported out of Poland and not being used to undercut Polish farmers.

Another protest in Dorohusk was also due to begin on Wednesday and reportedly included the participation of Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, and Romanian farmers, but it was postponed by the Solidarność Rolników Indiwidualnych trade union.

Police attended the protest in Hrubieszów to secure the site and ensure freight trains were not blocked.

The displeasure within the Polish agricultural community has grown in the past year following the European Commission’s decision to suspend tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural products due to the ongoing conflict in the country.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest exporters of grain, had been experiencing difficulty in exporting its produce out of the country after Russian naval blockades prevented the country’s Black Sea ports from operating effectively, creating a bottleneck that would have caused a considerable global supply issue.

As a result, dozens of trucks carrying over 70 tons of grain are entering Poland from Ukraine every day, and trade unions have accused unscrupulous companies of buying up cheap produce intended to be re-exported across the world at the expense of Polish farmers.

“A number of companies linked to Law and Justice made huge gains, but ordinary people suffered losses. This is absurd,” Michal Kolodziejczak, leader of the Agrounia group, told Radio RMF FM on Wednesday.

Henryk Kowalczyk, Poland’s former farming minister, resigned last week amid growing tensions. His successor, Robert Telus, addressed the Polish parliament on Wednesday and vowed to introduce detailed quality controls on the imported grain and to ensure its efficient transport overseas.

“We will check that this grain meets Polish and European standards because the health of Poles is the most important for us,” he told parliamentary colleagues in the Sejm.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month, the prime ministers of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia all urged the European Union to reintroduce import tariffs on Ukrainian produce if the matter cannot be otherwise resolved.

They described the influx of cheap Ukrainian imports of grain, eggs, poultry and sugar, all of which have inadvertently been dumped into the central European market, as “unprecedented.”

“Let’s support Ukraine, but let’s do it wisely and, above all, let’s put the interests of the country and Polish farmers first,” added Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

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