The area of the Zahony border crossing was packed with protesting farmers on Sunday morning. Farmers from even the farthest towns of the country, including Veszprem and Papa, came to raise their voices against the EU decision, the SZON news portal reported.
As Magyar Nemzet reported earlier, Hungarian farmers staged a demonstration in Zahony on Sunday after the European Union did not extend its ban on Ukrainian grain imports. Agriculture ministers from the front-line countries bordering Ukraine have been holding regular talks on the difficulties on the grain market in recent months, and have formulated joint proposals to Brussels for solutions, which is why the import restriction has been in place so far. Hungarian Minister of Agriculture Istvan Nagy said there was no question in most people’s minds that Brussels should maintain the import ban at least until the end of the year and take united action against Ukrainian cereals. The EU, however, failed to do that. The minister told Hungary’s public radio:
The leaders of the European Union are not defending the interests of the Union, we are witnessing the acquisition of markets by multinational big capital.
The farmers who call themselves Ukrainian are in fact American, Saudi and Dutch companies and investors, the minister said.
We have been deceived and our good intentions have been abused
“We should ask the question in whose interest the brilliant idea came up that the EU should allow the imports of almost all Ukrainian agricultural products into the European Union on the pretext that people might starve in Africa? Because this is what happened. Now we are witnessing that we have been deceived and the people’s good will to help a war-torn country has been abused in a despicable way. It is not Ukrainian farmers that we helped.
If we look at Ukrainian agriculture and its export performance, we see that these products are produced by huge Ukrainian agricultural companies, and nine out of the ten largest companies are not registered in Ukraine.
"This is something to think about. We should fight not with the Ukrainians, but with the companies operating in Ukraine, and it is now clear that they have people representing their interests in Brussels," said Balazs Gyorffy, president of the National Chamber of Agriculture.
Everyone has the right to know
The protesters also said that everyone has the right to know what is brought across the border. Products grown in Ukraine are not subject to EU food safety requirements and there are no strict regulations in the country.
Hungarian farmers have done their best to comply with EU rules, but food safety cannot be maintained because Ukraine is flooding Hungary and several other countries with goods that do not meet the requirements at all.
Ukraine is also using pesticides that are not even known to young farmers in Hungary, because they were withdrawn from the market a long time ago.
We must state clearly that by protesting for an extension of the ban, local grain growers are not only protecting themselves, but also the entire population of the European Union," the portal writes.
Cover photo: Illustration (Photo: SZON)