The European Union’s initiatives to assist farmers harmed by a glut of Ukrainian food imports are “too little, too late,” said Poland’s prime minister on Friday, after the government approved 10 billion zlotys ($2.4 billion) in agricultural aid.
Central European countries are attempting to reach an agreement with Brussels on EU-wide agricultural aid measures after several of them unilaterally imposed import bans on Ukrainian food exports.
“What the EU is offering us is offered with a delay, it is too little, a drop in the ocean of needs,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.
Several central European countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported through the country’s Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Bottlenecks then trapped millions of tons of grains in countries bordering Ukraine, forcing local farmers to compete with an influx of cheap Ukrainian imports.
The European Commission has offered 100 million euros of aid for central European farmers in addition to an earlier 56-million-euro package.
It has also said it will take emergency “preventive measures” for wheat, maize, sunflower seeds and rape seed, but the central European states want this list to be widened to include products including honey and some meats.
On Friday, the Polish government approved measures including increasing the amount of excise duty farmers can have refunded on diesel to 1.46 zlotys from 1.20 zlotys.
Morawiecki said the government would also ask the European Commission to give it permission to raise the amount that can be refunded to 2 zlotys. It will also pay subsidies to ensure farmers get a minimum price of 1,400 zlotys per ton of wheat.