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Farmers block roads across Bulgaria over agricultural imports from Ukraine

Monday, 18 September 2023, 14:41
Farmers block roads across Bulgaria over agricultural imports from Ukraine

Bulgarian farmers and owners of processing facilities have driven heavy machinery to road junctions to protest against the parliament's decision not to extend the ban on imports of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds from Ukraine after 15 September.

Source: European Pravda with reference to Forbes Bulgaria

Details: The protests have blocked a number of roads across the country, including border crossings, main roads and highways. Representatives of 26 industry organisations have announced an indefinite nationwide protest.


They urged citizens to travel only when absolutely necessary, warning that heavy agricultural machinery would be travelling on the country's main roads.

The protesters are demanding an extension of the ban on imports of sunflower, wheat, corn and rapeseed from Ukraine, as well as a ban on imports of unrefined oil, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meat and meat products, live animals, honey and bee products from Ukraine, and increased control over the origin, quality and safety of agricultural products imported into Bulgaria.

The farming community is also demanding that the full amount of compensation for increased production costs due to the war in Ukraine be paid to farmers by 30 September, that restrictions on the amount of aid be lifted, and that state aid be immediately paid to compensate farmers who have completely uncultivated land.

Among the farmers’ demands are the allocation of necessary funds to renew existing state subsidies and provide new ones, including minimum subsidies for producers of grapes, potatoes, raspberries, greenhouse produce and tobacco, as well as livestock and honey producers.

The farmers are currently pushing demands that have already been resolved or that cannot be resolved, said Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov.

In addition, he said, some of these demands are related to the approval of the European Commission. 

"We are conducting negotiations with grain producers, and the decision to lift the grain ban cannot be made by producers alone," Denkov said.

Agriculture Minister Kirill Vitev invited the protesters to talks and said that after the European Commission lifts the ban on imports from Ukraine, negotiations will be held with Kyiv to delay exports to Bulgaria until the products, quantities and mechanisms of licensing regimes have been fully clarified.


On Saturday, tensions between the government and farmers escalated after Denkov called some protesters terrorists. 

Last Thursday, Bulgaria's National Assembly voted to support the lifting of the ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products after 15 September.

On Friday, the European Commission announced that it would not extend restrictions on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine after 15 September, but Kyiv has agreed to take measures to limit imports.

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