Giving away apples, Polish farmers stage more food protests

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 3:36 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish farmers were planning more than 500 road blockades on Wednesday to protest against cheap food imports from Ukraine and the European Union’s climate policy.

Footage from private broadcaster TVN24 showed farmers carrying Polish flags and obstructing a road in the southern city of Katowice while handing apples to passers-by.

“We want to show people that our products are really healthy, they are good, so why aren’t they in our shops?” one protester told the channel.

Farmers in Poland and across the EU have been calling for changes to restrictions placed on them by the bloc’s Green Deal plan to tackle climate change. They also want the re-imposition of customs duties on imports of agricultural products from neighbouring Ukraine that were waived after Russia’s invasion.

They say Ukraine’s farmers are flooding EU markets with cheap imports that leave them unable to compete.

On Wednesday, the European Union reached a provisional agreement to grant Ukrainian food producers tariff-free access to its markets until June 2025, albeit with new limits on imports of grains.

Last Friday, the European Commission offered concessions to farmers as it proposed an easing of a series of rules on leaving land fallow or rotating crops.

Polish police said they knew of more than 580 protests planned for Wednesday, with an estimated participation of 70,000 people.

Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski told private radio RMF FM that he held talks with farmers until late on Tuesday and that while they did not bring any concrete solutions, negotiations would be continued.

“We are talking. The dialogue is in an intense phase.”

(Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Pawel Florkiewicz, Alan Charlish; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)