Polish Farmers Blocked Roads in New Protest Against Farm Imports

Wed Mar 20 2024
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ZAKRĘT, Poland: Polish farmers blocked roads across the country on Wednesday in fresh protests against agricultural imports from outside the European Union, particularly Ukraine, and against environmental laws they say raise costs.

Since last month, farmers have blocked the border crossings with Ukraine in protest against the low price of agricultural products allowed to enter the European Union since Russia invaded the neighboring country.

Demonstrations by thousands of farmers in Warsaw turned into clashes with police this month.

Polish police announced on Wednesday that more than 580 demonstrations involving 70,000 people were planned.

Farmers targeted roads leading to major cities such as Wroclaw, Bydgoszcz and Poznan.

Slawomir Miesak, a 57-year-old farmer, said the protesters were calling for the repeal of the EU’s Green Deal policy, which aims to help the EU meet its climate goals.

He told canceling the Green Agreement as his priority and said that they want to close the border with Ukraine.

Przemyslaw Galazka, 33, another protester, said the agricultural industry needs more funding.

“How long can we produce at a loss? he posed a question. The past two years have been difficult but the price of grain remained more or less stable, whereas now every farmer is asking himself whether it makes sense to go out in the fields and sow,” he said.

Some protesters disrupted traffic at the Ukrainian border and briefly blocked a bus waiting at the Medyka border crossing, sparking fresh friction with the neighboring country.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the passengers were “held hostage in a political confrontation.”

But Polish officials said they had ensured the free flow of buses across the border.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Paulina Klimek told media that whenever farmers try to close the border, the police come in and block it.

Ukraine’s agricultural sector was crippled by the Russian invasion in 2022, cutting off many export routes via the Black Sea and leaving large swaths of farmland unusable due to the conflict.

To help Kiev, the European Union has lifted tariffs on Ukrainian goods transiting by land through the 27-nation bloc.

However, due to logistical problems, large quantities of Ukrainian grain exports to non-EU countries are piling up in Poland, putting pressure on local producers.

EU member states and lawmakers agreed on Wednesday to limit duty-free imports of some Ukrainian grains in response to farmers’ complaints.


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