Farmers in tractors on road with Polish flag(c) Landworkers' Alliance

Thousands of farmers in Poland have staged major tractor-blockading protests against government land grabs.

Farmers are protesting against government plans to sell off prime farmland to biotech companies to cultivate GMs, and oppressive food regulations that cause small farmers to go out of business.

From 2016, foreign buyers will be legally able to buy Polish land. Therefore, the farmers are demanding the Polish government implements regulation to prevent land grabs by western multinational companies and protect farmers’ rights to land.

“We demand the introduction of legislation that will protect Polish land from exploitation by foreign capital. Agricultural land can not be sold to commercial companies. It’s part of Polish territory. Once sold it will be lost.”
Solidarity farmers’ union

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They have also called on the government to improve small farmers’ position in the market, including the adoption of a law to facilitate direct sales of processed and unprocessed farm products. This is to help family farms that  are struggling to compete with bigger farms.

Other demands include: a ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops (GMs) in Poland and an extension of inheritance laws to include land under lease as a fully legal form of land use.

Polish family farmers turned out to protest in more than 50 locations across the country this week. On 3 February, more than 150 tractors blocked the A2 motorway into Warsaw – and hundreds more farmers continue to close major roads and picket government offices in other regions.

Farmers in tractors on road with Polish flags

(c) Landworkers’ Alliance


Farmers protesting in front of government building in Poland

(c) Landworkers’ Alliance

The farmers have vowed to continue their protests until the government enters talks with the farming unions and commits to addressing what farmers see as a “crisis in Polish agriculture”.

These latest actions represent a dramatic escalation of protests that have been simmering across the country during the past year.

Edward Kosmal, chairman of the farmers protest committee for the West-Pomeranian region, warned: “If you [the Polish government] do not enter into a dialogue with the union, we would be forced to tighten our forms of protest.”

Solidarity, a Polish farmers’ trade union, said in a statement: “We demand a legal ban on GM crops in Poland. The value of Polish agriculture, unique in Europe, is the unpolluted environment and high-quality food production. These are decisive for our competitiveness in global markets.

“We are entitled to conclude that the European Union’s blindness deprives people in our country from thinking in terms of the importance of development for Polish citizens, and thus the Polish economy.

“We demand the introduction of legislation that will protect Polish land from exploitation by foreign capital. Agricultural land can not be sold to commercial companies. It’s part of Polish territory. Once sold it will be lost.”