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Ukraine farmers say protests in EU over Ukrainian grain are political


Protests by European farmers are political and shipments of Ukrainian grain are not reducing the profitability of their business, Ukrainian food producers’ union UAC said on Wednesday.

Logistical bottlenecks have kept large quantities of Ukrainian grains, which are cheaper than those produced in the European Union, in Central European states, reducing prices and sales for farmers there who have staged protests.

Poland last week said it would temporarily halt Ukrainian grain imports after farmers’ protests led Poland’s agriculture minister to resign, but transit would still be allowed.

“The political nature of the European farmers’ strikes is obvious. Ukraine sells some grain to Poland, and this is not a massive amount,” Denys Marchuk, deputy chair of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council (UAC), said in a statement.

“However, certain forces need to demonstrate that this is due to an oversupply of Ukrainian grain,” he said, noting that the country faced elections later this year.

He said that the decline in global grain and oilseed prices was a trend and that Ukraine was using Poland and Romania as transit routes rather than directly exporting to them.

Marchuk said Poland’s import ban could affect Ukrainian farmers in western regions as they traditionally sold to consumers in Poland and farms still have up to 40% of last year’s harvest, which they planned to sell and use for the sowing season.

A major grain grower and exporter, Ukraine’s grain output is likely to have dropped to about 53 million tonnes in the 2022 calendar year from a record 86 million tonnes in 2021, with officials blaming hostilities in the country’s eastern, northern and southern regions.

Ukrainian officials this month said, however, the country may export a further 15.6 million tonnes of grain in the April-to-June quarter, which would lift this season’s exports to nearly 53 million tonnes.

Millions of tonnes of grain from the 2021 harvest remained in Ukraine’s silos after its Black Sea ports were closed in the second half of the 2021/22 season.

The ports were unblocked the end of July after the United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal between Moscow and Kyiv.

Efforts to extend the deal beyond next month are ongoing, with Russia demanding the removal of obstacles to the export of its agricultural products.

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Romanian farmers holding a placard that reads “Solidarity, not suffering!” protest outside the European Commission’s Offices over the price of grains and demand fallout from having an influx of cheap Ukrainian grains in Bucharest, Romania April 7, 2023. Inquam Photos/George Calin via REUTERS

Grain farmer Oleksandr Klepach points at trenches in his field, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Snihurivka, southeast Ukraine, February 20, 2023. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner//File Photo