Poland’s ruling party leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, says the list of banned items includes grain and honey.
Poland’s government said it would temporarily ban grain and other food imports from Ukraine, seeking to address growing anger among Polish farmers who say they are losing out on huge amounts of Ukrainian grain on the market.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of Poland’s ruling party, said the Polish countryside was facing a “moment of crisis” and that Poland was forced to act to protect its farmers while supporting Ukraine.
“Today, the government has decided on a regulation banning the import of grain to Poland, and dozens of other foodstuffs,” Kaczynski said at a party conference in eastern Poland on Saturday.
The government has announced that the ban on imports will last till June 30. The regulation also includes a ban on imports of sugar, eggs, meat, milk and other dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Agricultural Policy and Food said it “regrets the decision of its Polish counterparts”.
“Polish farmers are facing a difficult situation, but we emphasize that Ukrainian farmers are facing a very difficult situation”, it said.
The ministry proposed that the two countries come to a new agreement in the coming days to the satisfaction of both parties.
Farmers in neighboring countries have also complained about Ukrainian grain flooding their countries and creating a glut that has caused prices to plummet and steep losses.
“Increasing imports of agricultural products from Ukraine are causing serious disruptions in our countries’ markets, causing great damage to producers and social unrest,” Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Delus told his counterparts in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and the EU. This week it’s Hungary. He said that since all are members of the European Union, urgent action should be taken on this matter.
“We cannot accept a situation where the entire burden of dealing with increased imports rests mainly with farmers from our countries,” said Telles.
This situation is the result of Russia’s war against Ukraine. After Russia blocked traditional export sea routes, the European Union lifted duties on Ukrainian grain to facilitate its transit to Africa and the Middle East.
Grain flowed into Poland, but much of it did not travel further to the Middle East and North Africa, as it was under the EU programme.
The Polish government has sought to blame the EU for this situation. But some unions and opposition politicians have accused government-linked companies of causing the problem by buying cheap, low-quality Ukrainian grain and then selling it to bread and pasta factories as high-quality Polish produce.
Michał Kołodziejczak, leader of the protesting farmers and head of the AgroUnia group, estimated farmers’ losses at up to 10 billion zlotys ($2.3bn).
The growing anger of farmers comes ahead of an election later this year and is a headache for the ruling conservative Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party, which is seeking a third term in office. Despite being the most popular party in the country, opinion polls suggest that it may not get a majority in the next parliament.
It faces a particular challenge from the Federation, a far-right party that combines libertarian and nationalist views and has some members sympathetic to Russia. The party has grown to become the third most popular party in some polls.
Kaczyński also announced other measures to help farmers on Saturday, including maintaining subsidies for fertilizer.