Unfair competition, yet another mockery of farmers in the EU

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The European Commission – with the full support of the Member States, the Meloni government first and foremost, and the Coldiretti MEPs – is creating yet another mockery of the protesting farmers and breeders. Farmers from all over Europe are asking for a fair price for their goods and a stop to unfair competition, from Ukraine and South America, and the Eurocrats with the large agricultural confederations at the service of global finance respond with duties on Russia and partnership with Javier Milei’s Argentina. #CleanSpades.

1) Farmers protesting, unfair competition from Ukraine

The protest of farmers in Central European countries – Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria – has exploded, as we have seen, due to unfair competition in agricultural and food commodities arriving from Ukraine. An unfair competition deliberately provoked by the European legislator with the ATM Regulation (Autonomous Trade Measures Regulation) No 2023/1077, which allowed the entry of such goods into the Single Market without duties or tariff quotas or health checks. (1)

Imports from Ukraine have thus increased disproportionately, compared to previous years, well beyond the country’s production capacity as far as this is concerned commodities such as sugar and honey, which were in fact imported from third countries and transited through Ukraine as a ‘free port’, putting European production in crisis. 122 million tons of cargo, of which more 68 million tons of cereals, oilseeds and other agricultural products were imported from the EU to Ukraine between February 2022 and February 2024 (EU Council data).

2) Ukraine, controversy over zero-duty import quotas in the EU

The project  to renew the suspension of tariffs on agricultural and food imports from Ukraine to the EU until June 2025 – vigorously pursued by Ursula von der Leyen and her deputy Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Trade Commissioner – has met with strenuous opposition from protesting farmers.

On 20 March 2024 the Commission reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament and the Council to extend the suspension of duties on imports from Ukraine until June 2025, with notional tariff quotas on wheat, oats, maize, poultry, eggs, sugar and honey. I.e., reinstatement of duties only if 2022/2023 import levels are exceeded.

An unsustainable ‘agreement’, for the protesting European farmers, since these very volumes have put their production in crisis. Slawomir Izdebski, leader of the farmers’ union OPZZ in Poland, therefore made it clear that quotas should be based on pre-war levels, when imports were much lower. (2)

3) Imports from Russia and Belarus, the viral deception

Paolo De Castro and Ettore Prandini – presidents of Coldiretti’s Filiera Italia and the national confederation, respectively – were the first to launch the viral deception that the collapse in wheat prices should be attributed to Russian and Belarusian imports instead of Ukrainian ones.

The viral deception was picked up by the ‘mainstream media’ without any verification of its gross falsehood. Indeed:

– Russia only exported 1,5 million tons of cereals, 2,7 mln tonnes of oilseeds and oil products, to the EU in 2023.That is, 12% compared to Ukrainian exports as well as around 1% of the EU market, an official of the European Commission told Reuters (3)

– Russian foodstuffs, unlike those arriving from Ukraine, are already subject to some import duties and food safety controls. As well as being strictly non-GMO. ‘Market analysts indicate that there is no evidence that Russian products have destabilized European markets‘, confirms the USA magazine Politico. (4)

4) Yet another mockery of the protesting farmers

Instead of re-establishing duties (or at least, tariff quotas capable of protecting the farmers of the Old Continent) on the 34 million tonnes/year of agricultural commodities arriving from Ukraine, the Eurocrats – with the support of Coldiretti and the major European confederations – have decided to increase duties on 4 mln t/year of Russian and Belarusian goods. With tariffs of €95/t or equal to 50% of the value of cereals, oilseeds and derived products.

The deficit will be partially covered by imports from third countries that traditionally supply the EU market, such as United StatesBrazilUkraine, Serbia and Argentina‘, said Ursula von der Leyen in publicly presenting yet another hoax to European farmers. (5) Awaiting its approval by the Member States who have been responding exclusively to the orders of Washington and Wall Street for two years.

5) Follow the money

The hero of justice Giovanni Falcone taught that to understand the mafias you need to ‘follow the money’. His investigative method – ‘follow the money‘ – can today help to understand the true reasons for the political decisions under examination:

– international finance, as we have seen, is investing large resources in agriculture in Ukraine. Black Rock and Corteva Agroscience (one of the ‘Big 4’), to name a couple, have already defined projects for the acquisition of large estates, sale of agricultural inputs (GMOs) and technical means (6,7)

– the ‘Western aid’ so far concentrated on weapons, in the context of the post-war recovery, will therefore be concentrated on agriculture and conditioned on an agrarian reform (according to WTO and World Bank logic) which is already taking shape in terms of

– ‘opening the agricultural land market to foreign investors, excluding citizens and businesses of the aggressor countries’, ‘building terminals for agricultural products near the borders of Ukraine with European Union countries and expanding the transit capacity of the infrastructure roads and railways’, ‘increase the level of processing of agricultural raw materials’, ‘give priority to the livestock industry’. (8)

The European Union in turn – after forcing its citizens into mass poverty in order to pump hundreds of billions of euros into the arms industry (controlled by the same financial oligarchies), which is in the process of becoming even more so – is stimulating the acceleration of the (liberalist) reforms necessary for Ukraine’s entry into the Member States. (9)

6) Finance against small farmers. Ukraine

The above-mentioned measures don’t provide any help to the citizens nor to Ukrainian farmers, exterminated by the war, but only to the financial oligarchies that aspire to purchase at a good price agricultural holdings whose average size is 485 hectares, compared to a European average of 17,5 ha (10,5 in Italy, 8 in Poland. Eurostat, 2020).

The common agricultural policy, according to calculations made by the Council, should allocate € 96,5 billion to Ukraine alone – following its accession to the EU. These sums will be allocated to big western finance, with a cut of more than 20 per cent in the aid hitherto granted to the 27 Member States in the 2021-2027 CAP, totalling € 378,5 billion. (10)

7) Finance against small farmers. USA, Argentina and Brazil

The mockery of the European establishment towards family and peasant agriculture – which still represents 94,8% of agricultural companies in the EU, despite the closure and transfer to agro-industrial oligarchies of 37% of companies in the last 20 years (Eurostat data, 2020) – extends to overseas operations, as mentioned above (see previous paragraph 4).

Ursula von der Leyen in fact, with the excuse of the ‘deficit’ of agricultural commodities caused by the new duties on Russian imports (which represent only 1% of supplies in the EU), it expressly refers to the need to rely on ‘traditional partners’. That is, those where agriculture is already in the hands of Western finance:

– USA. The US agro-industry, on closer inspection, already has the tools to import agricultural and food products into the EU, even at zero duty, via Canada, thanks to the CETA agreement already ratified in Italy by the Gentiloni government (11,12)

– Argentina, Brazil.The toxic EU-Mercosur agreement in turn provides for free trade in agri-foodstuffs with South American countries whose production is in the hands of  ‘fazendeiros ‘and’ ruralistas’, as well as commodity monopolists such as Bunge, Cargill and JBS (13,14).

8) Democratic revolution

The fight for survival of family and peasant agriculture must continue, Italy and in Europe. And it is essential that citizens understand how this fight affects us all, our food and our freedom.

Euro-Atlantic decisions under consideration go hand in hand with those that envisage the imposition of a war economy and are dragging us into the Third World War, in the sole interest of the same finance that wants to take over our food.

A peaceful revolution  must be expressed as soon as possible in the squares, with flags and white T-shirts in the sign of peace, respect for the earth and the dignity of all. And a protest vote, in the European elections of 6-9 June 2024, will help us put a few grains of sand in the gears of the dictatorship of finance. (15)

‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, then try sleeping with a mosquito’ (African proverb)

#PeaceEarthDignity #Égalité

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. European farmers, the Ukrainian question in BrusselsGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.1.24

(2) Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Kuba Stezycki. Polish farmers intensify protests against ‘executioner’ EU. Reuters. 20.3.24

(3) Philip Blenkinsop. EU plans to hit Russia, Belarus grain imports with tariffs. Reuters. 22.3.24

(4) Bartosz Brzetziński. Politico Europe. 21.3.24 https://tinyurl.com/yhw5pwpv

(5) Samuel Petrequin. The EU’s new import deal would support Ukraine while protecting the bloc’s farmers. Associated Press. 20.3.24

(6) Dario Dongo. Ukrainian agriculture, the ‘aid’ of the WestGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 19.6.23

(7) Dario Dongo. Seeds, the 4 masters of the worldGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.1.19

(8) Vitalii Dankevych. The Road to Restoration: Post-War Recovery of the Ukrainian Agricultural Sector. Food tank. March 2023 https://tinyurl.com/v6288myh

(9) European Council meeting, 21-22 March 2024. Conclusions (EUCO 7/24). See point 31 https://tinyurl.com/328knu8f

(10) Gerardo Fortuna. Ukraine’s EU membership will trigger a rewriting of CAP, says Kyiv official. Euractiv. 6.10.23 https://tinyurl.com/4m4xz4x4

(11) Dario Dongo. CETA, Strasbourg gives green light to the transatlantic disasterGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.3.17

(12) Dario Dongo. CETA, the Italian government approves the ratificationGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5.6.17

(13) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. EU – Mercosur, toxic trade agreementGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.7.19

(14) JBS is the world’s largest beef producer. See the previous article by Dario Dongo. Brazil, operation ‘weak meat’. Veterinarians corrupted by giants and false health certificates on beef and poultry meat destined for export. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.3.17

(15) Dario Dongo. Peace, Earth and Dignity. Our movement in the 2024 European electionsGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.3.24

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.