Poland urges EU to limit influx of Ukrainian grain

Imports impacting Polish grain prices
calendar icon 30 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Poland wants the European Union to use all tools at its disposal to limit the amount of Ukrainian grain entering the bloc's market, Reuters reported, citing Poland's prime minister on Wednesday, amid fury among farmers over the effect of imports on Polish grain prices.

Mounting anger in the countryside over the influx of Ukrainian grain poses a major headache for Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party in an election year, as its conservative voter base mainly lives in rural areas and small towns.

"We demand the use of all regulatory instruments - quotas, tariffs, which will limit or block the import of Ukrainian grain into Poland," Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.

Morawiecki said he had agreed with the leaders of several countries bordering Ukraine to write to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to demand action.

Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain exporters, has seen its Black Sea ports blocked since Russia invaded more than a year ago and has been forced to find alternative shipping routes through European Union states Poland and Romania.

But logistical bottlenecks mean large quantities of Ukrainian grains, which are cheaper than those produced in the European Union, have ended up in central European states, hurting prices and sales of local farmers.

Morawiecki spoke as Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk met with farmers representatives, who have dismissed government aid proposed so far as inadequate.

"Money is due for every hectare of grain, losses must be covered," said Michal Kolodziejczak, founder of the Agrounia group ahead of roundtable talks with the government. "There must be at least 6 billion zlotys ($1.39 billion) to cover these losses."

"I'm not going to leave unless there are good solutions here. The police will have to take us out."

The figure cited by Kolodziejczak was ten times higher than the 600-million-zloty aid programme approved by the European Commission on Monday, which the government says will help compensate farmers for their losses.

Kowalczyk recently had to be escorted out of an agricultural fair in the central Polish city of Kielce after he was accosted by a crowd of angry farmers and had eggs thrown at him at another event.

($1 = 4.3212 zlotys)

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