Polish sausage about to make Russian comeback

A ban on imports of Polish meat into Russia could be lifted after Moscow indicated it is prepared to send inspectors back to Polish production facilities. The embargo was introduced 17 months ago after Moscow accused Warsaw of failing to maintain health s

As the political tone in Warsaw changes, Russia has indicated it wants to re-inspect facilities along with EU experts.

From farms, large and small, to abattoirs and supermarkets, farmers say that if their meat is good enough for Poland, it is good enough for Russia too.

In the wake of the ban, small producers are noticing a change.

“There is nothing, nowhere to sell. Prices are low, no one to sell to, just a few private buyers. Usually our meat is very good. I can’t tell you what is going on.  It is our governments,” said  farmer Andrey Marczak.

Over a quarter of Poland's population is employed in agriculture with over half a million pig farmers alone. Since the ban, Poland's economy is estimated to be losing a million euros a day. But those at the top of the industry say international standards are being met.

“Poland's meat sector has invested sums of up to 2 billion euros to adapt to EU conditions and the modernisation of the meat industry. European and world experts say the Polish meat industry is one of the most modern in the world,” said Witold Choinski of the Association of Polish Meat Importers and Exporters.

Despite losing 6% of its market, Poland has found new buyers in the east, but the old Russian one is still vital.

“The eastern markets are very important to us and we will do everything we can to retain them,” Mr Choinski added.

Many in Poland believe the ban was an attempt by Moscow to punish the former Kaczynski government for opposing Russian pipelines and allowing Poland to be the possible location for a U.S. anti-missile shield.

Russia denies political intent. However, with last weeks change in leadership, it looks like the Civic Platform Party may be ready to settle the dispute.

 “I can't imagine Poland will continue this policy since it should be open to our neighbours.  For me all our diplomatic steps have been bad steps. We need more co-operation,” said Jolanta Hibner of the Foreign Affairs Committee.