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Bulgarian and Romanian farmers protest against Ukrainian imports

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Farmers in Bulgaria and Romania have staged protests on Friday against the duty-free import of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine into the European Union. They say the imports are flooding their markets and driving down prices, threatening their livelihoods.

The protests involved hundreds of tractors, trucks, and agricultural machinery blocking some border crossings with Ukraine and Moldova, as well as roads and cities in both countries. The farmers demanded that the EU impose quotas, anti-dumping duties, or import deposit fees on Ukrainian goods to limit the excessive inflows.

The EU waived customs duties and import quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products last year as a way of facilitating transport to third-country markets. Ukraine is one of the biggest producers in the world of grain and sunflower oil, but its exports were restricted by Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

However, farmers in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and other EU countries have been disproportionately hard-hit by an influx of cheap Ukrainian produce — namely grain — which stays on local markets and undercuts prices. Polish farmers have also held protests in recent weeks. Poland’s agriculture minister resigned on Wednesday after he became the focus of farmers’ anger.

The National Association of Grain Producers of Bulgaria said that removing import tariffs and agricultural trade barriers with Ukraine should have been a joint EU commitment, but its negative consequences have been disproportionately borne by member states geographically close to Ukraine.

The farmers urged the EU to take action and provide more financial support to offset the effects of the Ukrainian imports on their own markets. They also expressed solidarity with Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and called for a peaceful resolution.

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