Farmers’ protest blocks traffic on major artery into Warsaw

December 12, 2018 GMT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Protesting Polish farmers wearing yellow vests blocked a major highway into Warsaw for several hours on Wednesday to demand government action on several grievances.

Dozens of farmers in vests similar to those worn by French protesters in recent weeks gathered on the A2 without warning in the early morning, causing traffic to backup for several miles (kilometers) east of the capital. By the afternoon, authorities managed to convince them disperse.

The farmers had several complaints, including what they said was a lack of government compensation for losses incurred when they were forced to cull pigs to prevent the spread of African swine fever.

They also said they object to imports of foreign produce, including from Ukraine, which they said are driving down prices for their own products. They demanded that the government require food products be labeled with their country of origin.

Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski spoke to the protesters, saying he was sent by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to respond to their complaints.

“I am one of you. I became a minister to solve your problems,” the former pig farmer told them. He told them many of their demands have actually been met already, including the requirement for labeling the country of origin.