Ukrainian Deal with E.U. Annoyed Russia and Blocked Ukrainian Egg Sales to Europe
(p. B1) SADKI-STROYEVKA, Ukraine -- A cold wind whips through the streets. Vehicles that enter must drive through a foot-deep, moatlike bath of disinfectant, lest their tires track in disease. Computers raise and lower the levels of light to match circadian rhythms.
The scene is one of emptiness. One in four buildings is deserted. Fewer delivery trucks arrive than in years past.
As in much of Ukraine, hard times have befallen the Slovyany farm and its million or so inhabitants -- all of them chickens.
"We could be a player, and not a small one," said a forlorn Oleg Bakhmatyuk, the owner of Avangard, Ukraine's biggest egg producer. "We could be a major supplier."
The plight of his company, and the broader agricultural sector, has come to encapsulate a wider disenchantment in Ukraine with a trade agreement signed two years ago with the European Union. The deal, which went into force in January, included protections for farmers in the European bloc, and, as a result, one of Ukraine's most successful industries has been effectively shut out of the new opportunities.
. . .
(p. B5) The deal itself was not particularly favorable to the agriculture sector, but there were other consequences as well. When the agreement was signed in March 2014, it almost immediately triggered conflict with Russia, Ukraine's powerful neighbor. Moscow annexed Crimea, and Russian-backed separatists took control of parts of eastern Ukraine.
Avangard lost seven farms and 7.5 million chickens. It now keeps just 10.7 million hens, barely a third of its prewar capacity.
In effect, the deal provided a double blow to the agriculture sector: It went far enough to enrage Russia, but stopped short of immediately opening a lucrative new market.
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(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 23, 2016, and has the title "Ukrainian Farmers, Poised for Growth, Stumble After E.U. Deal.")