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Ukrainian grain prices undercut EU farmers – WSJ

Europeans can’t compete with cheap grain imports from Ukraine, which never make it to food-starved regions, the paper writes

A Wall Street Journal report on Friday stated that farmers in Europe are finding it hard to survive due to an influx of Ukrainian chicken and grain. Meanwhile, the grain-starved countries that were supposed to benefit from a UN-brokered arrangement to ensure safe passage of cereals and sunflower oil out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are not getting the food they desperately need.

“I am all for helping Ukraine, but I believe the EU opened Pandora’s box,” Jan Bieniasz, managing director of a farmers cooperative in the Polish village of Laka, told the outlet. He was referring to the European Commission’s decision to remove tariffs and quotas to allow Kiev to export its grains over land and from European ports amid the conflict with Russia. 

The move has seen European Union countries flooded with cheaper agricultural goods – while EU wheat and corn generally retail for $324 and $307 a ton, respectively, Ukraine’s wheat and corn sell for around $272 and $251, the WSJ writes.  

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Chairman of Bulgaria’s National Grain Producer Association Iliya Prodanov, in his comment to the daily, described a similar situation in his country, pointing out that Ukrainian farmers did not have to adhere to the same environmental regulations as their EU counterparts. Numerous farmers protested in different cities against Ukrainian imports of agricultural crops on Wednesday. 

French poultry farmers made the same complaints. They noted that Ukraine’s chicken imports have increased more than twice in the first six months of 2022. Apart from pricing out local farmers’ wares, Ukrainian cargoes are also taking up needed space at the ports, Cristian Gavrila of Romanian trade organization PRO AGRO told the WSJ.

According to the report, Kiev blames Poland for slowing the flow of goods across the border. It accuses Polish officials of intentionally sitting on the shipments and not doing sanitary inspections. The Ukrainian government has offered to send officials from Ukraine to speed up the process. The WSJ reports that Polish officials claim they’re moving as fast as they can. 

According to the American newspaper, 66% of Ukraine’s grain exports increased last month after the UN negotiated a safe passage from the Black Sea. The majority of these shipments went to Europe and high-income countries, instead of the hungry nations that were affected by the crisis.

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