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The Ukraine Report: Protests over Poland are blocking Ukraine’s border and grain truck transportation

On top of the ongoing war, Ukraine is also dealing with protests with Poland over what producers are calling unfair competition when it comes to grain exports.

On top of the ongoing war, Ukraine is also dealing with protests with Poland over what producers are calling unfair competition when it comes to grain exports.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage.

Eastern Europe. Poland is a peaceful and picturesque country. But it’s not a quiet place these days. Over the past week, there have been two major farmers’ protests. Thousands of tractors were pulled onto the country’s roads.

The protesters are against the EU’s policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. This includes banning some pesticides and reducing the volume of arable land. Farmers are also pressing for additional subsidies in case of drought.

In both cases, the protests were escalated by blocking the Ukrainian border and restricting the passage of grain trucks. The protesters twice broke seals on trucks and railcars and spilt grain onto the road.

Farmers say that Ukrainian grain competes with Polish and EU grain. We asked Polish entrepreneur Yuliy Zorya to go to the border and get a sense of the mindset of local farmers.

“Farms are disappearing in the European Union, especially in neighbouring countries such as Poland, which imports most of the products from Ukraine. This raises the question of what the security of the state will be based on if an armed conflict breaks out here in 10-20 years.”

The country’s security is primarily based on its own food and energy. Poland will not have its own food but will depend on neighbouring states. Since April 2023, Poland banned imports of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower.

These products only transit through Poland now. Where did the complaints come from? It appears there are speculations in Poland that some of the grain is not in transit but is being sold domestically.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister Michal Kolodziejczak, together with the protesters, rushed to the border terminal where Ukrainian grain is transshipped to check if it was passing through.

“No wheat, no corn, no rapeseed. These products do not remain here. None of this information has been confirmed,” he concluded after inspecting the terminals.”

Claims about the quality of Ukrainian grain are another reason for the protests. It is argued that Polish farmers have to reduce the use of agrochemicals, while there are no such requirements in Ukraine.

Thus, Ukrainian grain grown with substances banned in Europe is freely exported to the European Union. Polish trader Andriy Abdulov says that European buyers have the same requirements for all grain, regardless of whether it is grown by a Ukrainian or Polish producer. Ukrainian grain crosses Poland and goes, for example, to Germany.

The requirements there are strict - it is tested thoroughly. Either way, if the soybeans end up at a processing plant, the local laboratory also performs detailed analyses. After all, soybeans are then processed into feed, and no one will risk their reputation and customers for a scant profit.

The situation at the border is increasingly complicated every day. Experts suggest different developments, and it is clear that the present situation does not contribute to the development of Polish-Ukrainian relations.

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.

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