A group of European Union countries urged the bloc to act to help alleviate the oversupply of grain as cheap imports from Ukraine flood markets in neighboring countries, cutting demand for local produce and triggering protests from farmers.
Six east European nations led by Poland called for measures including compensation for farmers at a meeting of the bloc’s agriculture ministers. They also requested transit routes should be sealed off so that Ukrainian grain and other products can reach third countries without causing disruptions in Europe. The EU last year temporarily suspended tariffs and quotas on Ukraine’s agricultural products in an effort to aid the flows of grain blocked by Russia’s invasion and a blockade of the country’s ports.
“I informed the ministers about problems that farmers in the neighboring countries face with imports of Ukrainian grain, which was to be sent to western Europe and Africa,” Poland’s agriculture minister Henryk Kowalczyk told reporters in Brussels. “Some of it is staying in the neighboring countries hence the problems of local farmers who cannot sell their own grain.”
Corn imports from Ukraine to Poland rose to 1.6 million tons between January and November last year, a more than 25,000% increase from the corresponding period of 2021, according to a document the countries shared with other states at the ministerial meeting in Brussels. Imports to Hungary jumped to more than 900,000 tons from 5,000 tons while those to Bulgaria reached 16,742 tons from 361 tons.
“The large imports of products from one source during the national harvests have caused market disturbances in all member states involved,” the nations said in the document. “Part of the imported grain goes to the domestic feed processors which results in the decreased demand for domestic grain.” “We are ready to further help Ukraine, there is no turning back,” Kowalczyk said. “But we want to make the entire EU involved” in dealing with the issue.