Monday, January 10, 2005

Polish farmers gain from EU membership

The impact on Polish farmers of the first eight months of EU membership has been broadly positive, accordance to senior Polish agriculture official Waldemar Guba addressing the Oxford Farming Conference. Before enlargement farmers were concerned about the differences in technologies, the effect on the labour and land markets and what was seen as the unfairness of the accession package.

Farmers had benefited from increased trade, extra investment in food processing, some improvement in land prices, only a moderate loss of jobs but, above all, from a rapid rise in prices. Since accession pig prices had climbed 21%, cattle prices 37% and poultry by 32%. There had only been a two per cent increase in milk prices and wheat prices, affected by drought, actually fell by three per cent.

Total agri-food exports in the first six months after accession rose by 34.7% compared with the same period in 2003. There has also been a significant increase in investment in the Polish agri-food sector. This was helping to prepare the 600 or so food processing plants which are not yet compliant with EU health and hygiene regulations but have to be by 2006.

The biggest problem Poland has faced since accession has been on the currency frint, with the zloty appreciating strongly against the euro. This had hit export competition and lowered the value of subsidies.

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