Farmers in Poland have been blocking roads across the country to call out EU environmental policies and unfair competition from non-EU nations.
Polish farmers on Monday started the third day of a 30-day strike to protest against European Union farming policies.
They are demanding measures from both their national government and the bloc to combat production cost hikes, reduced profits and unfair competition from non-EU countries.
In Poland, where imports of cheap grain, milk and other produce from Ukraine have caused particular anger, farmers drove tractors across the country to slow down traffic and block major roads, some displaying signs that read “EU Policy is Ruining Polish Farmers.”
Access roads to border crossings with Ukraine in Hrebenne and Dorohusk, in the east, were temporarily blocked on Friday.
In the western city of Poznan, the police estimated that some 1,400 tractors reached the office of the regional governor. Protesters lit flares there and placed a coffin, symbolizing the death of Polish agriculture, as well as a manure-filled wheelbarrow with an EU flag stuck in it. There was no violence reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz as well as the opposition leader called on the EU commissioner for agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, Poland’s former agriculture minister, to resign. Wojciechowski reacted by saying he “will not act under pressure.”
The organisers, the Solidarity Union of Individual Farmers, said EU policies triggered the protest.
They said storage warehouses were filled with Ukrainian grain, causing prices to fall 40% in 2023. Demand for Polish sugar, milk and meat has fallen: as a result, farmers are holding off on investments.
Farmers are also concerned that the EU’s Green Deal, which calls for limits on the use of chemicals and on greenhouse gas emissions, will result in a reduction in production and income.
The Polish farmers say they will continue their industrial actions until March 10th.
Similar protests have taken place across the bloc in recent weeks. Farmers complain that the 27-nation EU’s policies on the environment and other matters are a financial burden and make their products more expensive than non-EU imports.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has made some concessions over the last few weeks, including shelving plans to halve the use of pesticides and other dangerous substances. Nonetheless, the protests have spread.