European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis has claimed to MEPs that he hears farmers’ concerns loud and clear when speaking before the European Parliament’s agriculture committee on Tuesday.

Commissioner Dombrovskis recognised that farmers are currently facing “huge challenges” of high input costs and volatile markets, while being “blamed too often for climate change and biodiversity loss”.

“Clearly, there is not enough recognition for the extraordinary work that our farmers do, day in, day out,” he said.

“So, let me say this: we hear our farmers – loud and clear. We acknowledge your hardship. And we need to do better.”


The commissioner made little mention of ongoing efforts to get final agreement on an EU-Mercosur free trade deal.

He only referenced the South American trading bloc when stating that 350 European geographical indicators would be recognised under a trade deal and that eggs imported from Mercosur countries would need to comply with EU animal welfare rules for hens.

On ensuring the high standards in imported beef, the commissioner told MEPs that all New Zealand beef imported in the quota agreed for lower tariffs must be from “purely grass-fed cattle”.

Responding to MEPs’ questions, he claimed that the Commission had “been very careful in calibrating the level of [beef] market access” Mercosur countries would get in any trade deal, as well as ensuring farmer “safeguards” are written into all agreements granting market access to products like beef.

The Latvian commissioner’s comments come after weeks of tractor protests right across the EU on a range of issues which included the trade-related matters of Mercosur and market disturbances caused by Ukrainian grain in eastern member states.

Poland protests

Farmers in Poland are still upping the ante on the European Commission, their national government and the country’s commissioner – agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski – to stem the flow of Ukrainian grain entering Polish markets, citing the impact this grain has on local prices.

The country’s farming organisations and farmers affiliated with the trade union Solidarity announced that they would ramp up their month-long protest campaign next Tuesday while Commissioner Dombrovskis was speaking before the European Parliament’s committee on agriculture.

The protest campaign kicked off last Friday with an estimated 100 separate demonstrations across Poland, with a focus on blockading border crossings with Ukraine.

“Not only border crossings will be blocked, but also communication hubs and access roads to transshipment railway stations and sea ports,” Solidarity commented in its statement on next Tuesday’s action.

“The problem of the profitability of agricultural production, processing and other industries in our country is the uncontrolled inflow of goods from Ukraine, which are imported due to the opening of the EU border with this country,” the group claims.

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