Poland’s Henryk Kowalczyk has announced his resignation from his post as Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Agriland understands.
European media reported that the former minister made the announcement during a press conference yesterday (Wednesday, April 5), and cited his inability to handle the ongoing crisis around Ukrainian grain imports as the main reason for stepping down.
It is understood that Minister Kowalczyk’s party urged him to leave his post after he failed to provide reassurance to Polish farmers who are concerned over the drop in prices and sales of their produce.
Downward pressure on prices has been slowly mounting since Ukraine began using its land border with Poland to export duty-free grain to other EU countries, after its Black Sea ports were largely decommissioned by Russian blockades last year.
Polish media reports state that although this grain, which is cheaper than grain produced in EU countries, is set to travel to other states via Poland, large quantities of it have been remaining there.
This has had a negative impact on the price of Polish grain and created tension among local farmers, who called on the European Commission to re-introduce tariffs.
The trend has become an issue in several countries that border Ukraine, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, where products such as oilseeds, eggs and poultry have experienced a similar impact.
This led to the penning of a letter to commission president Ursula von der Leyen on the issue, which was signed by the prime minister in each of the states. Despite this, the commission decided to extend the duty-free imports of Ukrainian grain into the union until June 2024.
However, a €56 million financial support package is currently being rolled out to some of the affected states after the commission signed off on a proposal on March 30, to support farmers who have been impacted by the increase in Ukrainian exports.
The funding, which is coming from the agricultural reserve, will provide €29.5 million to Poland, €16.75 to Bulgaria and €10.05 million to Romania.
In addition, all three countries will be allowed to match this EU support up to 100% with national funds, bringing the total financial aid available to €112.6 million.
Meanwhile, Romanian MEP Eugen Tomac has reported on social media that Romanian farmers are protesting at the EU Commission today (Thursday, April 6), where they are calling for further financial support worth €100 million.
In a post on Twitter, he said that “fairness follows solidarity”, and said that 60% of the Ukrainian grain that is travelling through the EU’s solidarity lanes goes through Romania.
He stated that this has negatively impacted sales and prices achieved by Romanian grain, which is leading to “in-work poverty” among farmers.