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Agricultural chamber, farmers’ association ask EU to reinstate Ukraine grain import ban

Hungary's National Agricultural Chamber (NAK) and farmers' association Magosz on Monday said they are sending an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, asking the executive body to review the decision to lift the ban on the import of Ukrainian farm products and reinstate the restrictions.

Not only did the European Union’s “flawed sanctions, the energy crisis and increased input costs” make life more difficult for farmers, the European Commission then scrapped customs duties on Ukrainian agricultural products, the organisations say in their letter.

The EU “deceived” farmers, abused their solidarity and their good will to ensure that Ukrainian farm products make their way to Africa, they said.

Because the measures introduced by the EU were “poorly thought-out”, the Ukrainian grain flooded the central and eastern European markets, causing enormous market uncertainty and a steep fall in producer prices, the organisations said. Hungarian farmers are set to suffer losses of at least 300 million euros in the case of the autumn wheat alone, and the prospects are no better when it comes to the other products, either, they added.

NAK and Magosz called it “unacceptable” that the EC had not extended the import ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, despite calls from several central European countries to do so, saying this constituted a “betrayal” of farmers.

Rather than helping the Ukrainian people, the lifting of the ban serves the interests of “international big capital”, they said, arguing that nine of the ten biggest Ukrainian agricultural producer firms were not registered in Ukraine, but linked to American and western European capital funds.

They said it was “outrageous” that the Ukrainian grain arriving in the EU did not have to meet the same standards as the grain produced within the bloc.

NAK and Magosz called on the EC to reinstate the ban on Ukrainian grain and extend it to further agricultural products. They also urged the commission to take steps to stabilise the market and compensate Hungarian farmers for their losses, as the “symbolic” compensation of 15.9 million euros approved earlier was insufficient. Also, Ukrainian crops should be expected to meet EU environmental protection and phytosanitary regulations, they said.

Meanwhile, the organisations welcomed the government’s decision to extend and expand the grain import ban on its own authority.

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