Poland to Inspect Ukraine’s Grain as Border Tensions Grow

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(Bloomberg) -- Poland plans to inspect grain shipments from Ukraine after farmers blockaded border crossings and Prime Minister Donald Tusk vowed to defend domestic producers against unfair competition.

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The government may introduce the new regulations as early as Monday, Deputy Agriculture Minister and former farmers activist Michal Kolodziejczak told PAP newswire. It may also start publishing a list of companies that have flouted an import ban imposed by the previous administration.

“We need to check carefully all the grain transiting from Ukraine,” Kolodziejczak said. “I’ll force the introduction of such regulations. It’s ‘to be or not to be’ for Poland and its agriculture.”

Tensions at the border are running high after farmers on Friday began their month-long protest against what they describe as uncontrolled influx of food products from Ukraine and to oppose the European Union’s climate policies. Poland only allows for shipments to cross its territory on the way to other destinations.

Polish media reported on Sunday that local farmers dumped grain from Ukrainian trucks onto the road near Dorohusk border crossing, prompting Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to call on the government in Warsaw to hold those responsible to account.

Last year’s protests led the previous government to ban Ukrainian grain to placate farmers before a parliamentary election. The restrictions have raised tensions between Poland and Ukraine, which sees exports of agricultural products as the key source of financing in its war against Russia’s invasion.

Former European Council President, Tusk came to power in December pledging to rally flagging support for Ukraine among Western allies. However, he has declined to remove the ban on grain imports and said unfettered access for agricultural products from Poland’s eastern neighbor may stoke anti-Ukrainian sentiment.

The government in Warsaw is seeking European Commission’s approval to expand local ban on Ukrainian grain imports to poultry and sugar. Ukrainian imports and food safety were also one of the topics during Tusk’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday.

“We want to help Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression,” Tusk said at a rally in Morag in north-eastern Poland on Sunday. “But we can’t allow anyone to exploit our empathy and openness and to use the war as an opportunity for unfair competition against our farmers and companies.”

--With assistance from Natalia Ojewska.

(Updates with more details from the first paragraph.)

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