DOROHUSK: Polish farmers staged blockades across the country on Friday to protest competition from Ukraine and heavy EU regulations, with Warsaw hinting it could impose new import bans on Ukrainian agricultural products.

Farmers protested at over 250 locations across Poland, blocking highways and border checkpoints while snarling traffic with columns of slow-moving tractors converging on major cities.

“We have no other choice,” Marcin Wilgos, an organiser of the protest in Dorohusk at the border with Ukraine, said next to a banner calling on the European Union to ban Ukrainian grain and sugar.

The farmers also called for an easing of environmental requirements already introduced by the EU as well as those included in the bloc’s forthcoming Green Deal.

“They’re talking about climate protection. But why should it be done at farmers’ expense?” said Janusz Bialoskorski, a 62-year-old farmer protesting in Poznan, northwest Poland.

Hundreds of tractors descended on Poznan, with farmers honking horns and blocking the streets as others gave away fruit and vegetables to passers-by.

“We do not produce plastics polluting the oceans, we do not build cruise ships that pollute the environment nor do we fly to Davos on our jets,” Bialoskorski said.

Sugar and poultry?

The protests came shortly after Polish truckers staged a two-month blockade of major border crossings to demand the reintroduction of restrictions to enter the EU for their Ukrainian competitors.

The hauliers have suspended the blockade until March but warned they will return to the border if their demands are not met.

Poland has been among Ukraine’s staunchest supporters during Russia’s nearly two-year invasion, but friction over grain import restrictions introduced by Poland and four other EU countries in June have further strained ties between the allies.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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