The leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said that the list of banned substances will include cereals and honey.
The Polish government has said it will temporarily ban imports of grain and other food from Ukraine as it seeks to address the growing anger of Polish farmers, who say they are losing huge sums of money due to a glut of Ukrainian grain on the market.
The leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslav Kaczynski, said the Polish countryside was facing a “moment of crisis”, and that while Poland had supported Ukraine, it had to act to protect its farmers.
“Today, the government has decided on a regulation banning the import of cereals, but also dozens of other types of foodstuffs, into Poland,” Kaczynski said at a party conference in eastern Poland on Saturday.
The government announced that the ban on imports will last until 30 June. The regulation also includes a ban on importing sugar, eggs, meat, milk and other dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Agricultural and Food Policy said it “regrets the decision of its Polish counterparts”.
She added, “Polish farmers are facing a difficult situation, but we emphasize that Ukrainian farmers are facing the most difficult situation.”
The ministry suggested that the two countries reach a new agreement in the coming days that satisfies both sides.
Farmers in neighboring countries have also complained that Ukrainian grain is dumping into their countries and creating a glut that is causing prices to drop – and causing them huge losses.
Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Tellos told his counterparts from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary this week. They are all members of the European Union and he said the bloc should take urgent action on the matter.
“We cannot accept a situation where the onus of dealing with the increased imports falls mainly on farmers from our countries,” Tellos said.
This situation is the result of the Russian war against Ukraine. After Russia blocked traditional sea export lanes, the European Union raised duties on Ukrainian grain to facilitate its transportation to Africa and the Middle East.
The grain has since flowed into Poland, but much of it has not traveled further to the Middle East and North Africa, as it was supposed to under the EU plan.
Poland’s government has sought to blame the European Union for the situation. But some trade unions and opposition politicians have accused government-linked companies of causing the problem by buying cheap, low-quality Ukrainian grain, then selling it to bread and pasta as higher-quality Polish products.
The leader of the protesting farmers and head of the AgroUnia group, Michał Kołodziejczak, estimated farmers’ losses at up to 10 billion zlotys ($2.3 billion).
The farmers’ growing anger comes ahead of elections later this year and is a headache for the ruling conservative Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party, which is seeking a third term. Opinion polls show that it is the most popular party in the country, but it may not reach a majority in the next parliament.
It faces a particular challenge from a far-right Confederate party, which combines libertarian and nationalist views and includes some members seen as pro-Russian sympathizers. The party has grown to be the third most popular party in some polls.
On Saturday Kaczyński also announced other measures aimed at helping farmers, including maintaining fertilizer subsidies.
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