08 July 1998
Polish farmers rise to challenge of EU

POLISH farming is preparing faster for European Union (EU) accession than many western farmers expected, reports the Financial Times.

One Polish businessman said entry presented the nations agriculture with its biggest challenge since the imposition of communism after the second world war. Efficient farmers would have the chance of entering into one of the worlds largest agricultural markets and the less efficient would struggle to survive, he said.

Polands farmers accept they will have to make changes to comply with EU rules. Integrating the country into the single market and the costly complexities of the Common Agricultural Policy is possibly the single most difficult element in the EUs expansion eastward, claims the newspaper.

There are a wide variety of Polish farms between two extremes of commercial enterprises and peasant farmers. In between is a broad range of semi-commercial farmers.

The country has 2 million farms, more than the rest of central Europe combined, and agriculture accounts for 27% of employment.

Rural Solidarity, the conservative farmers union, says Poland cannot enter the EU at the price of sacrificing its peasants.

  • Financial Times 08/07/98 page 2