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POLAND: Farmers' Protest

Another farmers’ protest blockaded Warsaw on Wednesday. Protesters were opposed to the unencumbered import of cheaper food from Ukraine and other EU states. Farmers further argued for the marking of all products in stores with flags and setting a threshold of at least 50% of Polish products in stores. There is also discontent about being cut off the Russian market and fears of increasing water fees. Media reports about agricultural businesses on the verge of bankruptcy are increasing, despite EU funding and state subsidies. Experts agree that many farmers are losing money due to very low wholesale purchase prices. Notably, talks with protesters’ representatives and Minister of Agriculture Jan Ardanowski ended in a fiasco. The Minister stated that farmers have chaotic and unintelligible demands, and described them as an “intellectual void”. As protests intensify, however, the government will be forced to create a better atmosphere for talks. With the ongoing election campaigns, the protest is providing a good opportunity for the agrarian PSL to stage a political comeback. If the party manages to capitalize on these protests and the conflict with Ardanowski, it might strengthen itself in parliament following the Autumn 2019 parliamentary race.