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Graindämmerung for Poland’s Populists?

With Polish farmers coming out in droves to protest and disavow the country’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, the parliamentary elections this fall have become much more interesting. Can PiS claw its way out of the latest hole that it has dug for itself?

WARSAW – A new, unprecedented grain crisis is upon us. It will have far-reaching consequences for Ukraine, the European Union, Africa, and possibly many other parts of the world. In Poland, especially, the general election this fall may now hinge on the issue.

The roots of the crisis lie in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when the EU exempted Ukraine from its agricultural-import tariffs and quotas in order to help its beleaguered economy. Under special “solidarity corridors,” grain from Ukraine was allowed into the EU without the usual mandatory checks for cleanliness, traces of heavy metals or pesticides, and so forth.

The assumption was that these shipments would remain in the EU for only a short time before proceeding to their final recipients elsewhere in the world. Yet because the exemption made Ukrainian grain much cheaper than Polish grain, things did not go as planned. At least three million tons of grain from Ukraine entered Poland without inspection, where domestic feed manufacturers immediately snapped it up and are now selling the flour that they made with it or keeping it in storage.

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