Polish farmers to step up protests by “complete blockade” of Ukrainian border

Polish farmers to step up protests by “complete blockade” of Ukrainian border
Truckers at the Polish-Ukrainian border. / bne IntelliNews
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw. February 14, 2024

Polish farmers will block all border crossings with Ukraine as well as key logistics hubs countrywide next week in an escalation of the protest that has been ongoing since February 9, a farmers’ trade union said on February 13.

The protest will be against the “uncontrolled inflow of goods from Ukraine” that is causing “problems with the profitability of agricultural production, processing and other industries in our country,” Solidarity RI, a farming trade union said in a statement.

Polish farmers are also unhappy with the EU’s Green Deal policy, which, they say, imposes too strict measures to protect the environment and climate.

“Not only border crossings will be blocked, but also communication hubs and access roads to transshipment railway stations and sea ports,” Solidarity RI said.

Farmer protests have been underway intermittently along the Polish-Ukrainian border since November. 

In the latest round last weekend, protesters at the Dorohusk-Jahodyn border crossing spilled grain from three Ukraine trucks on the ground, causing friction with the Ukrainian side.

Polish agriculture ministry apologised to Ukraine, saying that spilling grain was not the “right form of protest,” but it was understandable.

“[Polish farmers] are in a very difficult economic situation. At the beginning of spring, they have no money to buy fertilisers and plant protection products. It is hard not to understand their desperation,” Poland’s Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski said in a comment. The government is considering further restrictions and tax measures to curtail Ukrainian imports. 

Farmer protests are expected to last until March 8.

They are putting Poland’s government in a precarious position ahead of local elections in April in which the ruling coalition will seek to expand power in many rural communities that have so far been under the control of the opposition’s Law and Justice (PiS) party. 

The blockades on Ukrainian imports have already caused severe damage to Ukrainian farmers and businesses, the country's central bank said earlier this month.