Polish farmers begin hunger strike over EU Green Deal

By Thomson Reuters May 13, 2024 | 10:47 AM

WARSAW (Reuters) – Five Polish farmers have gone on hunger strike over European Union environmental regulations they say are driving them out of business.

Farmers in Poland and elsewhere in the bloc have been protesting in recent months against cheap food imports from Ukraine and restrictions placed on them by the EU’s Green Deal to tackle climate change.

A group of up to 14 farmers occupied Poland’s parliament on Thursday and on Monday the five who remained there said they would not eat until they secured a meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

“We are striking above all against the policies of the European Union … and today we are starting our hunger strike,” farmer Jaroslaw Zareba, 37, said.

Farmers have already won concessions from the EU over the Green Deal and from the Polish government, which said it would pay 2.1 billion zlotys ($529 million) in subsidies to compensate them for low grain prices, but many say it is not enough.

“The Green Deal … affects our agriculture very, very much,” Zareba said. “There are a lot of regulations that affect … our profitability and the price of our products.”

Deputy Agriculture Minister Michal Kolodziejczak said the protesters in parliament did not represent the majority of farmers, who he said had stopped protesting due to the measures implemented to help them.

“I don’t recommend that the prime minister meets with the representatives of what is more political chutzpah and not representatives of farmers,” he told state broadcaster Polskie Radio 24.

Last month farmers decided to unblock border crossings with Ukraine, lifting a blockade that had dragged on for months, soured bilateral relations and buffeted Ukraine’s trade.

($1 = 3.9654 zlotys)

(Reporting by Kuba Stezycki and Alan Charlish; Editing by Alison Williams)