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Romanian Farmers Stage Border Blockade in Protest Against Ukrainian Grain Imports

Thousands of farmers protested the impact of Ukrainian grain imports on prices across Romania on April 7, stopping traffic and border posts with tractors and trucks and demanding the European Commission to intervene.

Shivam Dwivedi
Romanian Farmers Stage Border Blockade in Protest Against Ukrainian Grain Imports
Romanian Farmers Stage Border Blockade in Protest Against Ukrainian Grain Imports

Farmers in Central and Eastern Europe are outraged by a torrent of cheap Ukrainian grain imports that are duty-free until June 2024, undermining local producers' prices and sales. Ukraine, one of the world's greatest grain exporters, had its Black Sea ports closed after Russia's February 2022 invasion and had to find alternate shipping routes through European Union states Poland and Romania, aided by EU-supported "solidarity lanes."

However, millions of tonnes of grain, which was cheaper than that produced in the EU, ended up in surrounding nations due to logistical bottlenecks and shorter distances. This Monday, Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk resigned. Farmers in Poland and Bulgaria have also protested.

On Friday, over 200 farmers demonstrated outside the European Commission's local headquarters in Bucharest, carrying banners that said, "We respected EU rules, but EU ignored us. You can no longer pass through here," and "Stability for Romanian farmers."

Thousands of farmers around the country utilized tractors, trucks, and other heavy gear to block roads and borders. "We're talking about unfair competition in the European community," said Nicu Vasile, president of the League of Romanian agricultural organizations. "I understand that our Ukrainian colleagues need to sell as well, but it is unfair competition."

Wheat production expenses have jumped 70% year on year to 6,000 lei ($1,326) per hectare, according to Vasile. According to the commission, farmers in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia have lost 417 million euros ($455 million) as a result of cheaper Ukrainian grain influx. It chose to compensate farmers in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania for a total of 56.3 million euros, with more to come.

"It's a concrete measure, but the sums are small, it's true," Petre Daea, Romania's Farm Minister, said on Friday. The money allocated to Romania will be doubled by the ministry. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that he expected solutions to be announced in the next days and weeks to appease Polish farmers. Six regional prime ministers have asked the commission to intervene.

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