Will farmers' protests end soon? “Minister, this is a drama”

Luc Williams

The voice of protesting farmers

He was one of the debate participants Wiesław Gryn from the Zamość Agricultural Society, who recalled that he has been calling for the expansion of Polish sea ports for years. “To help Ukraine, we must have developed ports to make this transit route clear,” he argued.

In turn, the leader of Podkarpacka Oszukana Wieś, Roman Kondrów, said that it was still taking place transit of Ukrainian grain. “Despite the government's declarations, it is still happening. It hurts us because we know that this grain is coming back from the German border to our country,” he said. He emphasized that he “personally feels offended” that Prime Minister Donald Tusk has not met with farmers so far. Kondrów emphasized that farmers expect compensation due to the difficult situation they find themselves in as a result of war in Ukraine.

Another debate participant Artur Koncik, a farmer protesting at the crossing in Świecko, emphasized that the biggest problem in the province There is a drought in the Lubuskie Voivodeship that occurs every year. “Minister, this is a drama. May and June come and there is no water,” he said.

Koncik added that there is also a problem in breeding chickens and turkeys. “The costs have increased so much that it is no longer profitable for us. We hear that we won't be able to heat the henhouses with gas – this is another drama, what should we do? – He was asking.

Present in Jasionka chairman of NSZZ RI “Solidarność” Tomasz Obszański he pointed out that each country should have its own Green Dealbecause agriculture in individual countries has different characteristics.

On the other hand Filip Pawlik from AgroUnia he argued during the debate that the basis for the strikes is poverty and deprivation in the countryside. “We were not prepared for products imported from Russia and Ukraine. I expect the government to take immediate action, compensation must already be paid,” he appealed.

He also participated in the debate Władysław Serafin, chairman of the National Union of Farmers, Agricultural Clubs and Organizationswho pointed out that in Poland there are no mechanisms that would show the real situation in agriculture.

“This is why our country has been mismanaged for many years now. We do not have a picture of the situation in agriculture, we do not have institutions that would present this picture,' he said. Serafin stated that it is necessary to restore the legal status in relations with our eastern neighbor from before the beginning war in Ukraine.

He also took part in the debate Andrzej Sobociński, representative of protesting farmers in Żuławy, speaking about the Green Deal, he emphasized that not all provisions in this document should be thrown away. He pointed out that it was the Polish side that “complicated these provisions” in this document. “The provisions of the Green Deal in Germany are much less complicated than in our country,” he added.

Minister of Agriculture: The current situation related to protests is “new” for the government

The Minister of Agriculture, responding to these demands, emphasized that the current situation related to the protests is “new” for the government, because the protests are scattered in many places in the country. “There is no single structure that would coordinate the demands,” he added.

The politician repeated that once again farmers are right to protest. He noted that the current situation is influenced primarily by external conditions, i.e. the war in Ukraine.

Speaking about the dialogue with the Ukrainian side, the minister said that these were “extremely difficult talks.” “Ukraine is doing great lobbying in Brussels. It would be best for us if Ukraine entered into negotiations in which the regulations regarding trade exchange would be clearly defined. We are conducting systematic talks with the Ukrainian side, there are some concessions on their part, but they are almost forced by force,” he emphasized. Siekierski and recalled that on March 28 this year there will be a joint meeting of the governments of both countries.

The minister said that Ukraine must understand that it is something different humanitarian reliefand militaryand commodity exchange is another thing.

Siekierski he warned against “final solutions”, i.e. closing the borders, because – as he said – Poland is also an exporter.

Speaking about the Green Deal, the minister noted that it was thanks to the Prime Minister's talks Donald Tusk with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen There were changes to the provisions of the Green Deal reported by protesting farmers.

The minister assured that when it comes to drought, the government will improve the reporting and compensation system.

Compensation for low grain and corn prices

Debate participants also answered questions from the floor. One concerned the payment of compensation for low grain and corn prices. Siekierski said that talks are being held on this subject with the Ministry of Finance. “These talks are to be completed by the end of March, in consultation with individual industry associations. The government is determined to solve these problems,” the minister assured.

Some questions concerned when the protests would end and farmers would be able to return to their homes. The minister noted that the problem “is broader” and it does not depend only on the decision of the Minister of Agriculture. “Taking into account the EC's concessions when it comes to the Green Deal, I think we are on the right track to an agreement,” Siekierski said.

Farmers are waiting for specific solutions

Many people taking part in the debate accused the minister of did not provide any specific solutions to the problems, which are the reason for agricultural protests.

Siekierski pointed out that he had been a minister for only three months. “Please don't blame me for the negligence of the last eight years,” he appealed.

He recalled that the government wants, among other things, increase subsidies for animal production, or to recreate pig breeding. The minister added that they would be increased agricultural fuel subsidies up to PLN 2. “These are things that have been neglected in recent years and that we are trying to make up for” – Siekierki. The politician admitted that transit of goods from Ukraine is “leaky”.

“Approximation of positions”

After the debate, the minister told journalists that the conversation allowed “to bring closer positions.” “If we do not reach a full agreement, there is some rapprochement, and farmers understand that. You can see that farmers want to talk to us. We just need to remember that these talks must take place at the European level,” he added.

Siekierski emphasized that he understands the determination of farmers who are in a difficult situation due to, among others, low grain prices. “But it's not like I can make decisions myself. These are also arrears from many years, errors of omission, and now we have to solve them despite the farmers' frustration. But no one said it would be easy,” he said.

In Jasionka, after the debate, the meeting between representatives of agricultural organizations and the minister is to be continued. (PAP)

Author: Wojciech Huk


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