April 14. 2024. 6:57

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Poland to facilitate export of surplus Ukrainian grain surplus until next harvest

Excess Ukrainian grain will be exported abroad between now and the next harvest season, after vast amounts of grain flooded the local market in 2022 to the detriment of local farmers, the Agriculture Ministry announced.

After the EU Council approved a support measure worth €56.3 million for Bulgarian, Polish, and Romanian farmers hurt by Ukrainian grain flooding the markets, the Ministry announced that it will add further millions from the state’s budget, which will make the overall sum intended to compensate the producers for their losses, 280 million zlotys (€59.6 million).

Additionally, the ministry will put efforts to get rid of the overflow of Ukrainian grain from the Polish market before the next harvest season by enhancing export. “Until now, the (import of) coal was a priority for Polish ports and freight railway. As winter has passed, we can prioritise grain now. (…) The ports will significantly increase its capabilities,” Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk told the Tydzień weekly programme by public TVP broadcaster.

Last year, the EU established Solidarity Lanes to facilitate grain exports from war-torn Ukraine which had its ports blocked. Huge flows of cheap Ukrainian grain ended up in central European countries, affecting grain prices for local farmers, notably in Poland, Romania, and Hungary.

Poland is willing to help Ukrainian grain reach Africa where it is needed the most, prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week, insisting that Poland had never agreed for it to enter the Polish market and destabilise local sales. Morawiecki announced he would issue a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, demanding the EU take immediate action to solve the problem.

At the last week’s round table with the farmers, which the Ministry called in a reaction to the escalation of protests by the grain producers, the parties agreed, among other things, that the minister would ask the EU to issue the Safeguard Mechanism, allowing for restrictions of import from Ukraine to be restored for certain products in case the liberalisation cause serious disruptions on the market.

Under the new rules, having received the formal request the Commission will have three months for the decision concerning the reintroduction of regulations restricting the import from Ukraine, an EU official told the technical briefing on Friday. However, no requests have been filed so far by Poland nor any other member state, he said.

Asked by EURACTIV.pl whether the grain producers will insist the Ministry demand the EU reinstate import restrictions, leading farmer activist and founder of AgroUnia food producers’ movement Michał Kołodziejczak said that the inflow of Ukrainian grain must be halted and it is up to the government to find ways to achieve that. “It is their job, not ours,” he insisted.

The sum that the Commission announced it will spend on compensations for Polish farmers “is a drop in the ocean, compared to the losses” caused by the flows of Ukrainian grain, Kołodziejczak told EURACTIV.pl.

“For those compensations to suffice, they should amount to €8-10 billion,” he said, adding that “what the Commission is now doing is fleeing the problem.”

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)