Polish police have foiled a protest planned by farmers who aimed to block a railway line in Hrubieszów, which transports grain from Ukraine to Poland. According to RMF24, the farmers initially called off their plans to block the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Dorohusk, as it had not been agreed upon with their union. However, the farmers’ distrust of the new Minister of Agriculture’s promises to halt the flow of Ukrainian grain into Poland led them to attempt the protest anyway.
Farmers were set to join the protest at 10:00 am and block the railway line in Hrubieszów, which transports grain from Ukraine to Poland. The protest was declared to last for seven days, with farmers ready to extend it if necessary, as stated by Michal Kolodziejchak, the head of the organization Agrounia. However, the protest did not take place due to police intervention, with dozens of officers in uniform arriving on the scene, joined by border guards and railway security personnel.
The farmers have said that they do not intend to resort to force.
On April 11th, Poland’s new Minister of Agriculture, Robert Telus, after meeting with farmers, promised to appeal to the European Commission to impose tariffs on the import of Ukrainian grain. Last week, Poland and Ukraine agreed to temporarily suspend imports of Ukrainian wheat, rapeseed, corn, and sunflower.
Protests against exports of Ukrainian grain to Europe: background
Farmers in Eastern Europe have been protesting against the influx of Ukrainian grain, blaming it for their financial struggles as local crop prices plummet. According to LIGA.net, Poland has been hit the hardest, with farmers demanding restricted access to Ukrainian agricultural produce. As a result, Ukraine was forced to suspend its exports of wheat, corn, sunflower, and rapeseed to Poland until July. Protests have also erupted in Romania, with farmers demanding the reinstatement of duties on Ukrainian grain.
Ukraine experienced a surge in agricultural exports to the EU in 2022, following the invasion by Russia. The EU lifted duties and quotas on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, and helped arrange for grain blocked by Russia in Black Sea ports to be transported via Polish and Romanian road and rail networks. Ukrainian grain exports increased significantly, particularly to Poland, causing tensions between the countries.
However, Olha Trofimtseva, the ambassador-at-large in charge of food security and agricultural exports, argued that blaming Ukrainian grain for falling prices in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria is a “big exaggeration.” She explained that the decline in food prices is a global trend, and the protests against Ukrainian grain are emotional rather than rational.
Experts believe that the countries’ efforts to pressure the EU for more compensation are primarily aimed at bargaining for larger subsidies. Despite the challenges, Ukraine is expected to adapt and potentially shift focus towards processed products for export.