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Polish government reaches deal with farmers to suspend border blockade

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 6, 2024 11:00 PM 2 min read
Podkarpackie Voivode Teresa Kubas-Hul presents the agreement reached with Polish farmers together with Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski on Jan. 6, 2024. (Polish Agriculture Ministry)
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Polish farmers have agreed to suspend their border blockade at the Shehyni-Medyka crossing after reaching an agreement with government representatives, the Polish Agriculture Ministry announced on Jan. 6.

Polish truckers have been blocking three crossings with Ukraine since November 2023 in protest of the EU's liberalization of transit rules for Ukrainian truckers, causing massive lines on the border and negatively impacting Ukraine's economy.

Polish farmers then launched a blockade at a fourth crossing at Medyka. They temporarily suspended the protest over the Christmas period between Dec. 24 and Jan. 4.

The farmers said they launched the protest because the authorities have not taken enough measures to protect their livelihoods, despite an import ban on Ukrainian grain.

Agricultural Minister Czeslaw Siekierski pledged to meet three of the farmers farmers' demands on Jan. 6, according to the government announcement.

These include launching corn subsidies worth one billion zloty ($251 million), increasing liquidity loans by 2.5 billion zloty ($629 million), and keeping agricultural tax at the 2023 level.

These measures "will be implemented after the legislative process is completed and acceptance by the European Commission is obtained," the Agriculture Ministry said.

Farmers have also previously asked to expand the import ban on Ukrainian agricultural products to items like sugar, eggs, and poultry, but this was not included in the deal reached on Jan. 6.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski told Polish media outlet RMF24 on Jan. 5 that he would demand an EU-wide restriction on these products.

Truckers continue their protest at the other border crossings, and as of Jan. 5, 2,000 trucks were waiting in line to enter Ukraine from Poland, according to Border Guard Service spokesman Andrii Demchenko.

The border crisis that enters its third month continues to put pressure on Ukrainian-Polish relations, already strained by disputes over grain imports last fall.

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