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Farmers protest, they announce that they will return to Warsaw. Szymon Hołownia after meeting with a delegation of protesters

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Protesting farmers marched through the streets of Warsaw on Tuesday. They met with the Speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, and the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Jan Grabiec. After the meetings, the delegates assessed that no agreement had been reached. They announced the next protest for March 6. However, after meeting with protesters, Szymon Hołownia said that it would be good to organize a round table on this matter.

On Tuesday, a farmers’ protest took place in Warsaw.

Farmers angry after meeting at the Prime Minister’s office. They announce another protest in Warsaw

A delegation of farmers met the Marshal in the Sejm Szymon Hołowniaand in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister with the head of the chancellery, Jan Grabiec. After the meetings, the delegates assessed that no agreement had been reached. They announced the next protest for March 6. – It was a regular conversation without anything specific. Unfortunately, nothing was agreed, apart from the promise that a round table with representatives of farmers and authorities would be created. Nothing but words (…) We count on real and specific actions. There is nothing of it for now, said one of the protest leaders, Szczepan Wójcik, after the meeting in the Sejm. He added that in his opinion, farmers would continue to protest and block roads.

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Farmers’ protest “Starry March on Warsaw”PAP/Leszek Szymański

Addressing the protest participants, Wójcik said that “there is no agreement, there are demands, now we are waiting for the move of the parliament and the government.” – We did what we could do. Our voice has been heard, he added.

– There were no specifics. The government promises us that some details will be presented by March 7, but so far we haven’t heard anything. We left hoping that whatever we got alive, we would be able to give it to people. Unfortunately, we didn’t settle anything, said people from the delegation to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister on TVN24.

– The strikes will still continue, on March 6 (March – editor) we will meet again in Warsaw, we are still blocking Poland, we will not leave the barricades, unfortunately – they announced. They are to be joined by, among others: transporters and construction workers.

The meeting of the farmers’ delegation at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister has endedTVN24

Hołownia on farmers’ key demands

Szymon Hołownia said at Tuesday’s briefing in the Sejm after the meeting with protesters that the farmers’ delegation was large and included several representatives of agricultural organizations representing a wide spectrum of agricultural problems.

According to the Speaker of the Sejm, farmers raised three basic demands at the meeting. As he reported, the first one is to “suspend the harmful solutions of the Green Deal.” – Not the entire Green Deal solutions, but the harmful ones (…) which – according to farmers – lead to their farms being on the verge of collapse – he added.

– The second demand is to solve the problem of excessive presence of agricultural goods from outside the European Union on European markets, including the Polish market – said the Marshal of the Sejm. He emphasized that farmers care not only about Ukrainian products, but also, for example, Russian grain. According to Hołownia, this problem is real and difficult to solve.

Hołownia with a round table

The third demand, as reported by the Marshal, concerns ensuring the continuity of animal production in agriculture.

– During the conversation, we probably agreed on one thing, and this is probably the basic achievement of this hour – that it would be good to organize as soon as possible, in a place, such as the Sejm, which provides such an opportunity, a kind of round table in which experts, farmers, politicians, but also maybe processors and market representatives will talk to each other continuously – he said.

As he noted, the point is that “after a few months, maybe a dozen or so months of working together, it turns out that there is no need to organize large protests once a year, but that everyone has heard each other before and really knows what the other side is trying to do to face reality.”

Szymon Hołownia during a meeting with a delegation of farmersPAP/Marcin Obara

Hołownia: undoing some decisions will take weeks

Hołownia also emphasized that this “is not supposed to be a place where we can beat ourselves up”, but a forum for continuous conversation. He emphasized that this is about a conversation about how to “sort out” this difficult issue, which is currently the production of food that is safe for consumers at an appropriate level and at the same time profitable for farmers. According to Hołownia, the issues of what can be done in this matter at the European Union and national levels should be raised during these talks.

Among other issues discussed at the meeting, Hołownia mentioned, among others: energy prices in connection with greenhouse gardening and matters related to hunting. Hołownia also assured that all demands submitted by the delegation of protesting farmers had been accepted. He stated that he made a promise to farmers that the problems they reported would be solved, although – as he noted – “undoing certain decisions that have been made in the European Union will take weeks.”

The Marshal did not rule out that “maybe the EU bureaucracy is doing some things wrong, imposing excessive burdens on farmers.” He pointed out that if a farmer is to be obliged, for example, to fallow, create balks or small retention, he should receive subsidies for this, and the system of EU subsidies – as he said – does not work properly and needs to be reviewed.

Hołownia after meeting with farmers: it would be good to organize a kind "round table"

Hołownia after the meeting with farmers: it would be good to organize a kind of “round table”TVN24

Hołownia on “years of neglect”

Hołownia added that a mechanism should be created in the EU that would allow the collection of food surpluses from the market and transfer them, for example, to African countries, which – in his opinion – would reduce the wave of emigration and increase the profitability of agricultural production.

When asked if there is a chance that any decisions regarding farmers will be made by March 28, when the meeting with the Ukrainian government is to be held, the Marshal replied: – I hope so.

– I know that this work is ongoing in the European Commission basically non-stop, and that our representatives there are really very active. Only, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the situation we are in, (EU Commissioner for Agriculture – ed.) Janusz Wojciechowski agreed to something, the government PiS he agreed to something. And we don’t really start with a clean slate from the very beginning, where we can turn the page in the notebook and say – “okay, now we’re going clean.” NO. These were years, these were months of neglect – said the marshal.

“This is the opening balance”

Hołownia emphasized that this was not to blame his predecessors. – This is the opening balance. And this opening balance shows very clearly that the people who were responsible for Poland’s food security are the main accomplices of this uproar that we are seeing on the streets today – noted the Speaker of the Sejm.

According to him, “it may take more than a week, two weeks or five weeks to unscrew something that has been broken for many months.” – So I will not make any guarantees – especially since I am not a government – because it would be unfair to the protesters. However, for my part, I will do my best to constantly remind the government – and I don’t think it even needs to be done – that we have an issue to deal with, that it is urgent, he said. The Marshal also expressed hope that “within these few weeks we will be able to have the first specifics on this matter presented on the table here in the Sejm.”

Hołownia also raised the issue of the appearance of barriers in front of the Sejm at the conference. – The barriers in front of the Sejm have disappeared for good since we started working here with the new majority. However, they will appear whenever the real safety of people taking part in the protests is at stake, he emphasized.

– We did everything to ensure that these barriers were not there, unfortunately yesterday the police turned to the Chancellery of the Sejm, asking for the possibility of installing these barriers due to signals about possible provocations – added Hołownia.

Main photo source: PAP/Mateusz Marek

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