Poland focuses on crisis relief for farmers in wake of Ukraine war

shutterstock_754110607-1 [SHUTTERSTOCK] Jurek Adamski]

This article is part of our special report How the Ukraine war is reshaping the CAP.

Poland is moving to adapt its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan to place a stronger focus on food security and crisis relief, while remaining committed to the objectives of the Green Deal. EURACTIV Poland reports.

Through the recently submitted national strategic plans for the 2023-2027 CAP reform, EU member states have detailed how they will meet the policy’s nine EU-wide objectives to respond to the needs of farmers and rural communities.

The European Commission recently gave feedback to the member states that have submitted the first drafts of their national plans, one of which is Poland. In its comments, the executive stressed the importance of prioritising food security following instability caused by Russia’s recent aggression on Ukraine.

Responding to the feedback, Poland’s minister of agriculture Henryk Kowalczyk said that he recognises that “conditions” which have originally shaped the Polish strategic plan have changed vastly.

As such, the plan needs to be reviewed and improved, he said.

Kowalczyk also welcomed many of the Commission’s other recommendations, such as increasing focus on renewable energy sources and – in particular – utilising more natural fertiliser in agriculture, admitting that such measures were “under-appreciated” before the war and the crisis that ensued.

Crisis relief for Polish farmers

It is, however, crisis relief, based upon the temporary emergency framework, that has taken centre stage in Poland’s efforts in the past few weeks.

On 6 April, Poland’s agriculture department put forward to the Commission a support scheme to help farmers cover increasing costs, driven primarily by fertiliser price hikes. For example, the price of ammonium nitrate – a popular fertiliser – has increased by as much as 130% on the Polish market.

The scheme is valued at €836 million. Farmers are entitled to 500 polish złoty (roughly €107) for every hectare of agricultural land and 250 polish złoty (€53.50) per hectare of grassland and pasture, up to 50 hectares.

This limit is designed to target the scheme towards helping primarily small and medium farmsteads, which have been a focus of the Polish national strategic plan.

Meanwhile, the Polish government also introduced a temporary lifting of the ban on using fallow land for growing crops, as exceptionally permitted by the Commission for this year.

This measure, also permitted by the temporary emergency framework, will allow the country’s farmers to utilise an additional 4 million hectares of land that was previously off-limits.

On top of growing crops and feed, farmers will be allowed to use crop protection products in ecological focus areas (EFAs), with the exception of land, used to produce honey.

Deputy minister of agriculture Krzysztof Ciecióra has since stressed that the derogation on enabling production on EFAs should be extended by another year.

Still committed to the green cause

However, while some short-term goals have been overshadowed by the urgent need to increase food and energy security in the bloc, Poland remains committed to the goals of the Green Deal, according to minister Kowalczyk.

Speaking at the TOGETAIR 2022 climate summit, he stressed that despite food production being important given the consequences of the war in Ukraine, climate protection is still an important factor in agricultural policy.

The minister added that more incentives for ecological farming will be introduced in the future and that eco-schemes will see an increase in funding.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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