Cracks appearing in favor of Ukraine? Farmers’ Patience Is Running Dry in Ukraine’s Grain Crisis (Bloomberg)

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Photo: Profimedia

Dissatisfaction is rising among farmers in Eastern Europe, who see an influx of cheap grain from Ukraine hurting their businesses and eroding much-needed political goodwill, according to a Bloomberg analysis of several indicators measuring the level of discontent. : At a blocked border crossing, a minister was attacked by leaking egg or grain silos.

Other Eastern European countries, including Poland and Romania, agreed to help transport grain from Ukraine to world markets after the Russian invasion blocked Ukraine’s seaborne exports. Some of this grain has now ended up in Eastern Europe, threatening the incomes of local farmers who cannot fight the low prices of Ukrainian crops.

The grain surplus is the result of some infrastructural constraints but also the farmers’ decision to postpone the sale of last year’s crops. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg in an analysis cited by Agerpres, the grain glut has become a political issue as protesters begin to take to the streets.

Last summer, Eastern European farmers decided to wait before selling their grain crops in anticipation of higher prices after war broke out in Ukraine. Instead, the global crisis has pushed prices down, so farmers in Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria now face lower incomes and trouble emptying their silos before this summer’s new harvest.

Are the first cracks appearing?

Political leaders who initially rushed to support Ukraine are beginning to complain. “We must help Ukraine to transport and sell grain to countries outside the EU,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck wrote four months ago when Ukraine offered $20 million to export its grain to Africa.

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On Friday, the same Mateusz Morawieck announced that the EU should re-introduce customs duties on Ukrainian agricultural products if they cannot stop the influx of these products, which lower prices on EU markets, by other means.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary proposed several measures to limit market distortions caused by Ukrainian imports. , they should reintroduce tariffs and quotas.

Also, the heads of government of the five Central and Eastern European countries reiterated the need for additional funding to help affected farmers and the urgent need to improve transport infrastructure to facilitate the movement of goods exported from Ukraine.

The five Prime Ministers also propose an amendment to the Agricultural Export Act to regulate the quantity and direction of inflow of agricultural products.

Elections can have political consequences

Farmers’ grievances can have political consequences. Parliamentary elections are due later this year in Poland and Slovakia, and farmers are prominent among the electorate. The situation is similar in Bulgaria as parliamentary elections were held on Sunday.

Romanian farmers marched to Brussels on Wednesday to display banners reading “Romanian farmers deserve respect” in front of the European Commission. Romania, one of the largest producers of wheat and corn in the EU, has facilitated more than half of Ukraine’s grain exports since the start of the war.

Grain imports from Ukraine increased to 570,000 tons last year, compared to close to zero in 2021, according to Razvan Filipescu, vice president of the Union of Agricultural Producers from Dobrogea.

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President Klaus Iohannis criticized the 56 million euro crisis fund made available by the Community bloc for farmers as insufficient and did not take into account the “enormous sacrifices” made by Romania.

Slovakia wants the EU to work with the United Nations World Food Program to ensure that grain from Ukraine is transported out of member states, a source close to the talks said on condition of anonymity.

However, grain from Ukraine could play a role in covering possible shortages in Europe. The drought that hit much of the European Union last summer affected maize crops, requiring new imports to cover the shortfall. In addition, Ukraine’s supplies will decrease in the coming months as the war affects harvests.

“Total exports from Ukraine, including exports to the EU, will decrease, that’s clear,” says Alex Lysitsa, CEO of Ukrainian agribusiness firm IMC.

Publisher: BP

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