Since the European Union is doing nothing to restrict the import of cheap Ukrainian grain exports that disrupt Hungary’s agricultural market, Hungary has taken matters into its own hands, said Agricultural Minister István Nagy.
After the outbreak of war, when it seemed that Ukrainian grain would not leave the ports, the EU quickly abolished export tariffs on Kyiv, allowing crops to freely flood into Europe at depressed prices. The original idea was that EU member states would help get shipments out to the world market, avoiding a total collapse of Ukrainian grain exports. The reality, however, was that the extreme quantities of Ukrainian exports, duty-free, remained in the European market and began to systematically destroy the grain trade of the member states.
Grain imports from Ukraine in 2021 amounted to 287,000 tons. However, this figure soared in 2022 to 2.8 million tons, which has become a serious problem for European farmers competing against low-cost Ukrainian grain. The precarious situation for European farmers did not change when Ukrainian ports reopened either, as it became more convenient and cheaper for the Ukrainians to flood the European Union with their grain crops knowing that Brussels would do nothing to stop this development. The Ukrainians ended up being right in their assumption.
The mass influx of Ukrainian grain has had such a market-distorting effect that the member states most affected — Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria — have issued a joint declaration to Brussels asking for help.
Hungarian Agriculture Minister István Nagy said: “They respect the EU measures to help Ukrainian grain to enter the world market, but as the current situation is more about destroying the EU market, they have a duty to preserve the balance of the internal market while protecting the interests of domestic and European farmers.”
“Brussels does not stand by Hungarian and Central European farmers and does not offer any help to protect Hungarian, Romanian, Polish or Bulgarian producers who are otherwise unable to survive. The European Commission would have Central European farmers pay the price of Ukrainian grain exports instead of burden-sharing,” the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture wrote in a statement.
As a result, Hungary has instituted strict controls on food supply chains, all in accord with relevant EU legislation. Nagy added that in addition to grain crops, cheap Ukrainian honey and poultry exports are also hitting EU member states markets in “enormous quantities.”