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Farmers in Romania, Bulgaria protest Ukrainian grain inflow

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BUCHAREST, Romania — Farmers in Romania and Bulgaria staged protests Friday to specific their anger over the European Union’s response to a glut of agricultural merchandise from Ukraine that they are saying are flooding native markets and undercutting costs.

About 100 farmers converged in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, whereas tons of extra protested throughout the nation in lengthy convoys of tractors. In neighboring Bulgaria, grain producers blocked some border crossings with farm autos.

Some farmers exterior the European Fee’s consultant workplace in Bucharest brandished placards that learn: “Don’t punish our solidarity,” whereas others urged bloc officers to “take accountability, take motion, take care.”

Final yr, the EU waived customs duties and import quotas on Ukrainian agricultural merchandise as a manner of facilitating transport to third-country markets. Ukraine is without doubt one of the greatest producers on the planet of grain and sunflower oil, however its exports had been restricted by Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports, threatening world meals safety. Russia has warned it might pull out of a deal which has unblocked the ports since final July.

Nevertheless, farmers in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and different EU nations have been disproportionately hard-hit by an inflow of low-cost Ukrainian produce — specifically grain — which stays on native markets and undercuts costs.

Polish farmers have also held protests in current weeks. Poland’s agriculture minister, Henryk Kowalczyk, resigned on Wednesday after he grew to become the main focus of farmers’ anger.

Liliana Piron, govt director of the League of Romanian Agriculture Producers’ Associations, stated on the Bucharest protest that Romanian farmers have “reached a degree the place they really feel they will now not face the prices” of the “unfair competitors” from Ukraine.

“We’re lower than three months away from the brand new harvest and the hazard is actual, that the products we may have prepared this season won’t be able to be bought at costs above manufacturing prices,” she stated. “We’ll witness a sequence of bankruptcies of Romanian farmers.’’

Brussels final month had pledged to assist grain and cereal farmers in Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland with a complete compensation package deal of 56.3 million euros ($61 million) — 16.7 million for Bulgaria; almost 30 million for Poland, and 10 million for Romania. Farmers and nationwide governments stated the cash wasn’t sufficient.

“If at this time’s protest shouldn’t be heard in Brussels, we’ll contemplate bigger actions with the participation of different nations that share the identical view,” stated Iliya Prodanov, head of the grain producers’ affiliation in Bulgaria. He added that there are at the moment 3.5 million tons of Bulgarian wheat and 1 million tons of Bulgarian sunflowers saved in native warehouses.

Marian Popa, a Romanian farmer from southern Teleorman County who attended the protest within the capital, estimates he has up to now misplaced about 500,000 euros ($545,000). “I nonetheless have 1,000 tons of sunflower seeds however the value has gone down and it’s nonetheless happening,” he stated.

Stephen McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania; Veselin Toshkov reported from Sofia, Bulgaria.

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