Farmers Restart Border Blockade Amidst Unresolved Demands

    Farmers who had temporarily halted their protest at the Medyka border crossing with Ukraine have reignited their demonstration after an 11-day hiatus. The group, identified as ‘Deceived Countryside,’ had originally joined the ongoing protest by Polish truckers at the Korczowa, Dorohusk, and Hrebenne crossings. Their blockade, which commenced on November 23, was briefly suspended on December 24 for the holiday season, but on Thursday, the farmers decided to resume their protest.

    The farmers’ demands include subsidies for corn, additional funds for liquidity loans, and the preservation of the current level of agricultural tax throughout the coming year. Simultaneously, truckers have been staging blockades at the Ukrainian border since November of the previous year, citing concerns about unfair competition from their Ukrainian counterparts.

    Expressing dissatisfaction, the protesting farmers declared on Thursday that they had not received confirmation that their demands would be met. They emphasized the need for “written declarations, not just a memo prepared by the agriculture minister.”

    Addressing the situation, Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski stated during a press conference on Thursday that meeting the farmers’ demands would take time due to the ongoing process of adopting the 2024 budget in the Sejm (lower house of the Parliament – ed.).

    Siekierski clarified, “One signature is not enough, there is a procedure.” However, he assured that there is allocated funding in the budget for subsidies and loans. The minister informed reporters that he had sent the farmers a note affirming his commitment to implementing their demands. These include subsidies for corn, which necessitates notification to the European Commission, an increase in agricultural lending by PLN 2.5 billion (EUR 575 million) at a 2 percent interest rate, and no augmentation of the agricultural tax.

    While acknowledging that the note is not termed an “agreement,” Siekierski emphasized its binding nature as an obligation. He also expressed willingness to meet with the protesters if necessary, even suggesting a potential meeting on Saturday.

    “I am the last person who would like to deceive you, because you can cheat only once and the next time I will no longer be a partner for you,” Siekierski asserted, addressing the farmers directly.

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