Polish farm minister quits amid protests over Ukrainian grain imports – POLITICO


Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk resigned Wednesday amid a wave of farmers’ protests over unprecedented inflows of Ukrainian produce into the country.

Kowalczyk said he decided to quit because the European Commission would not agree to reimpose tariffs and duties on Ukrainian grain imports, a move his ministry has been calling for since December, despite initial opposition from the country’s leadership.

“Since it is very clear that the farmers’ basic demand will not be met by the European Commission, I have made a decision and resigned as minister of agriculture and rural development,” Kowalczyk said in a statement.

The protests, in which Kowalczyk was booted out of one conference and egged at another, threaten to shake the bedrock of the right-wing government’s traditional rural support ahead of a general election this fall.

Rumors that Kowalczyk would be sacked by the leadership of the ruling Law & Justice (PiS) party, of which EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski is also member, have been circulating for a few days.

His resignation comes less than a week after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asking her to take action to curb Ukrainian agricultural imports into the EU. The letter was signed by heads of governments from four other Eastern European member countries that also face a supply glut.

Kowalczyk will be replaced by Robert Telus, who chairs the Polish parliament’s agriculture committee, according to reports.

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