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Farmers protest against EC’s proposed extension of unlimited Ukrainian agricultural imports at border

Some 1,000 farmers protested on Friday near the Hungary-Ukraine border crossing at Zahony against the European Commission's proposal to extend the unlimited imports of Ukrainian agricultural products by one year.

The protesters lined up hundreds of tractors and trucks along a 5km section of the road leading to the border station on both lanes blocking regular traffic. They put Hungarian flags on their vehicles and held up at the Zahony crossing banners with slogans criticising Brussels and the EC and expressing support for Hungarian agriculture.

Istvan Jakab, the head of farmers’ association Magosz, said that “incompetent people” in Brussels were destroying Europe’s agricultural sector and the European people. He noted a similar demonstration staged against EU regulations by Hungarian farmers last September to protect the 5 million hectares of the country’s arable land.

Jakab said European farmers could not compete with Ukraine’s large producers and their off-shore registered foreign owners and investors “who want to put their hands on large sizes of arable land in Ukraine with Brussels’ help”. “And they want to first weaken and finally put their hands on the European market,” he added.

Balazs Gyorffy, the head of the National Agricultural Chamber (NAK), called the EC’s proposal “absurd”, adding that “Brussels cannot force such a regulation onto Hungarian and other farmers in Europe”.

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