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Polish farmers organize parliamentary protests against imports from Ukraine and EU regulations

The influx of grain from Ukraine has intensified existing complaints about what farmers describe as punitive environmental regulations from Brussels.

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In an escalation of ongoing protests, farmers from the Polish Farmers’ Union Orka staged a sit-in in front of the Polish parliament on Thursday, saying their livelihoods are under threat on multiple fronts.

“Today we want to protest against the Green Deal, against the opening of the border for products flowing into the country from Ukraine,” the union’s spokesman said at a press conference.

“We are not bandits or hooligans. We want to protest in a cultural way, to manifest the problems we have in agriculture.”

The protesters are demanding a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who has been holding talks with the protesters on and off since February.

Farmers in parliament promise to occupy the Sejm until Tusk meets with them.

Farmers have staged similar protests across the EU, with demonstrators blocking major highways, calling for priority to be given to European products and a relaxation of environmental regulations they say penalizes their businesses.

The Polish protests gained the support of the conservative Law and Justice party, which lost power to Tusk last fall, and the far-right Confederation.

In an attempt to ease the financial burden on farmers, the government has introduced new subsidies for farmers to help mitigate the effects of surplus crops on the market.