Farmers across the country are protesting against the flood of grain imports from Ukraine since the European Commission granted duty-free access to Ukrainian grains in the European market.
They are voicing their grievances about cereals intended for transit through Romania being sold in the domestic market, leading to competition. The farmers are dissatisfied with the way funds were allocated by the European Commission and the management of the situation by the Romanian authorities.
Ukraine is expected to increase its grain exports in the April-June 2023 quarter, potentially bringing total exports for the 2022/2023 season to nearly 53 million tonnes.
The counties where protests are being organized are Alba, Arad, Argeş, Bihor, Bistrita-Năsăud, Botoșani, Brăila, Buzău, Constanţa, Covasna, Galati, Iasi, Mureş, Olt, Satu Mare, Timiş, Tulcea, Vrancea and Bucharest.
Last month, the European Commission approved a 56.3 million euro aid package for farmers in Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland. Despite Romanian farmers presenting data claiming losses of over 200 million euros, Romania received only 10 million euros from that package. The heads of state and government officials from Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland have since requested a second round of financial aid for farmers, which is currently being considered by the European Commission.
A joint statement from several farmer federations in Romania points out that the extreme form of protest taking place right now is a consequence of the deep dissatisfaction and disappointment of the farmers toward the solution offered by the European Commission to address the serious problems and unfairness faced by the agri-food sector in Romania. The removal of all custom duties on goods from Ukraine since mid-2022, amidst the ongoing conflict, has resulted in market distortions and a dumping effect that has forced the flow of goods and encouraged Ukrainian farmers to sell below cost, causing negative side effects on neighboring countries.
The current protests by Romanian farmers are part of a broader context of demonstrations taking place in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria. Farmers in these countries are also raising similar concerns as those in Romania, citing the sale of Ukrainian grains in local markets, which are exempt from taxes.