Magazine article Anglican Journal

EU Harms Farmers: Bishop

Magazine article Anglican Journal

EU Harms Farmers: Bishop

Article excerpt

ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL

Warsaw

A Polish bishop is urging the country's farmers not to sell land to foreigners in order to prevent the European Union imposing injustices upon those who till the soil for living.

"Our hope lies, as never before, with those who work the countryside. You face a hugely important and difficult task--to defend Polish land and to defend our country," said Stanislaw Napierala, the Roman Catholic bishop of Kalisz.

The bishop was preaching to thousands of Polish farmers at a harvest mass on Aug. 19 in the central Poland town of Pleszew. He said farmers had been "unjustly treated" since May 2004, when Poland joined the EU. The bishop charged that the EU favours large landowners when it comes to financial benefits.

"To make a profit, you have to own plenty of land and produce a lot. Most Polish farmers don't have it easy and can hardly make ends meet," Bishop Napierala said. Catholic church leaders have frequently defended the rights of Polish country-dwellers, who make up 40 per cent of the population but live mostly on subsistence farms of fewer than eight hectares (20 acres). Although the rural sector is scheduled to obtain 26 billion euros ($35 billion US) under the EU's 20072013 budget, this is well below the figure allocated to Western producers due to new subsidy regulations which some see as working to the detriment of the latest EU members. …

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