Bulgarian farmers protested at 45 locations across the country over lifted ban on Ukrainian grain imports

22:27, 18.09.2023
Bulgarian farmers protested at 45 locations across the country over lifted ban on Ukrainian grain imports

The national farmers' protest on September 18 blocked 45 points in the country at key locations such as border crossings and major roads. Tomorrow the protests will be in front of the Council of Ministers in Sofia. The protesters are dissatisfied with the lifting of the ban on Ukrainian grain imports. Prime Minister, Nikolai Denkov, commented that the protests started because of controversies between different agricultural producers.

Dissatisfied with the lifting of the embargo on agricultural products from Ukraine, grain growers and farmers from all over the country came out in protests. They want the ban on grain, powdered milk, dairy products, vegetables and fruit to continue and commented on the Prime Minister's words that they are terrorists.

"You can't call terrorists hundreds of thousands of people who are involved in the whole sector. The farmers with the expensive cars are not here, they are very few and are close to those in power. But they are not here, they are not affected by this, they are doing their trade in grain products," said another industry official.

In Blagoevgrad, tensions flared after police prevented protesters from blocking the main E-79 road, despite having informed the authorities beforehand. Others complained that their tractors were not allowed to join the protest.

"The tractors were not allowed to join the protest at all," said Julia Koyunjiyska, an organizer of the protest for Blagoevgrad.

Protesters in Veliko Tarnovo complained that they were stopped for a full inspection of their farm equipment by police officers. The Road Infrasructure Agency said they would be issued with tickets for the illegal road closure.

"Tractors are stopped for inspection in various places, which for me is sabotage," said organizer Tsanko Tsanev.

Protesting farmers blocked the Plovdiv - Haskovo road for an hour. 300 machines and hundreds of farmers passed through Plovdiv and caused traffic disruptions. At the protest in Montana, 200 machines stopped traffic on the E-79 for minutes.

In Vidin, farmers blocked the road to Danube Bridge 2 to defend their interests and demand dialogue with the government. With the closure of the border with Romania, they also hope for an international response.

More than 50 heavy machines of grain farmers joined the protest in Dobrich. In addition to the return of the ban, they demand restrictions on other commodities such as powdered milk because, in their words, it "ruins" Bulgarian dairy production.

"The losses of livestock farmers are extremely high, as processors start importing powdered milk and refuse to work with fresh milk," said livestock farmer Galin Velikov.

Grain growers explain that they will be able to provide the necessary amount of sunflower for processors as well, so there is no need for Ukrainian imports.

"In Bulgaria this year, thanks to the transitional stock that is available, there will be sunflower, which is within 2.4 million tonnes. The maximum processed volume of them so far has been 3 million tonnes. That is, they have now enough sunflower to work with," said Radostina Zhekova, chairwoman of the Dobrudzha Union of Grain Producers.

According to the Prime Minister, the protests are due to the different interests of the different branches in the sector, and the problem with Ukrainian imports has been solved.

“There is a disagreement between grain growers, livestock farmers, producers of fruits and greens and also with some other industries because their interests are divergent. We have our interests and these interests are to protect the native producers, but not to impose unnecessary bans," said Nikolai Denkov.

Today the Agriculture Minister invited the grain producers to a meeting to determine together exactly what quantities of grain are acceptable for import from Ukraine to our country. Tomorrow the protests will move to the capital.

Agriculture Minister: We will insist that Ukraine temporarily hold its exports to Bulgaria

Protesting Bulgarian farmers block main roads, border crossings

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