It has begun: Protests of Farmers blocked the main roads in Bulgaria

Politics | September 18, 2023, Monday // 11:54
Bulgaria: It has begun: Protests of Farmers blocked the main roads in Bulgaria

  • Dozens of blockades on important road arteries because of the nationwide agricultural protest
  • Farmers threatened: They don't know what kind of storm is coming!
  • The Prime Minister on the grain producers: The protest has demands that cannot be resolved

Farmers started blockades at a number of important road points and border crossings throughout the country as part of the indefinite nationwide agricultural protest that began today. Over 900,000 people are affected by the repealed ban on the import of agricultural products from Ukraine, emphasized representatives of 26 branch organizations from the agrarian sector.

More than 40 important points on the roads in Bulgaria have already been blocked by the nationwide protest to save Bulgarian agriculture. Georgi Milev, vice-chairman of the Association of Grain Producers, urged before the Bulgarian National Radio that trips should be made only in cases of extreme necessity, because heavy agricultural machinery is being moved.

Over 300 farmers with more than tractors, heavy machines and other equipment gathered at the exit of Stara Zagora in the direction of the highway "Trakia" near the district "Kolio Ganchev", where the protest blockade, part of the national protest of grain producers and farmers, began today.

The Varna-Burgas road is closed in both directions in the area of the "Haramiyat" up to the road for Avren by tractors of grain producers. Traffic police have been dispatched to the scene. Traffic has been stopped from the Asparuhovo bridge and is being redirected through Beloslav-Razdelna-Sindel-Dolen Chiflik. It is not yet known how long the blockade will last.

Heavy agricultural machinery blocks traffic at the Petolatchka road junction. In addition to the demands for a ban on Ukrainian grain and food products, as well as the urgent payment of state aid, the protesters also demanded the resignation of the government.

Hundreds of farmers with tractors and trucks have been paralyzing traffic not only at the road junction, but also in the entire region for the second hour. The five-way roundabout will be bypassed periodically. In the later hours, the heavy equipment is expected to leave for Sofia.

Dozens of farmers also gathered in protest near Blagoevgrad, as they blocked the roundabout on road E-79 after Blagoevgrad in the direction of Simitli and closed traffic.

Burgas farmers will join the protest actions today. They will take part in the blockade of Petolatchka and will close the Burgas-Varna road at the roundabout to Aheloy.

In Vidin, agricultural producers will join the national protest announced for today against the decision of the National Assembly to end the veto on the import of Ukrainian grain and agricultural products into Bulgaria. They will block traffic on the approach to Danube Bridge 2.

In the Dobrich region, the blockade is at the Durankulak and Kardam border crossings, at the Balchik roundabout and the road to Silistra in the village of Karapelit. The protests here will continue until 2:00 p.m., and tomorrow they will move to the buildings of the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers in Sofia.

The farmers' protest blocked four road junctions in the Plovdiv region.

More than 300 farmers with about 100 heavy machines are also blocking the main Silistra-Ruse road at the Tutrakan junction.

Meanwhile, at 11:00 a.m., traffic blocked by farmers from the Lovech region was restored on the main Sofia-Varna road at the roundabout at the end of the Hemus highway at the Boaza junction in the area of the village of Brestnitsa.

Farmers threatened: They don't know what kind of storm is coming!

The agricultural protest in Dobrich region covers 4 places - at the Durankulak and Kardam border crossings, the Balchik roundabout and the road to Silistra in the village of Karapelit.

The protesters are united in their insistence that the policy of the Bulgarian state towards the destruction of Bulgarian production be stopped.

One of the most affected sectors in agriculture is animal husbandry, representatives from the branch said. Galin Velikov - a representative of the Association of Sheep and Goat Breeders, complained to the National Radio that the purchase price given by the processors is killing the sector:

"This year, the price of milk fell to 50 cents per liter of cow's milk and 1.60 leva per liter of sheep's milk. There are dairies that refuse to work with fresh sheep's milk, as they have stated that they will work with dry milk, imported from Ukraine".

"Our requests are to stop the unregulated import of dry milk from Ukraine, as well as honey and fresh milk", Velikov stressed. According to him, the standards in Ukraine do not meet European standards.

"The sector is so neglected that I don't know if there will be a livestock sector this year if it continues like this", said another protester. He emphasized that he is a representative of 4 districts that have 15,000 sheep. A third of them will go up for sale this year.

"We are forgotten by God", said Stanimir Simeonov, who is also an animal breeder. He emphasized that they are giving everything they can so that the animals can survive.

The chairman of the Union of Grain Producers of Dobrudja, Radostina Zhekova, defined Bulgaria's behavior as a diplomatic scandal, given the fight it has been leading until recently, together with Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, to ban the import of Ukrainian agricultural products. "We have lost the support of the other 4 countries. This is a betrayal of both the Bulgarian people and the countries with which we have the same demands towards the EU," she pointed out.

"The main demand is to impose a national ban to stop the import from Ukraine of agricultural goods sensitive to Bulgaria. This list was quite simple compared to the previous ban. We want to add dry milk and unrefined sunflower oil - things that stress the market and exert pressure on Bulgarian production".

"Agriculture" sector is not a political formation and does not have any political demands, Zhekova was categorical.

Dimitar Machuganov - a farmer from Lovech and former chairman of the Association of Grain Producers said:

"We stand up for our right to work and exist in our country. We will stand up to the end until we achieve the minimum demands that we have proposed to the government".

He defined the unification in the sector as unprecedented:

"They don't know what storm is coming from this wind they sowed".

According to him, there is always a solution if there is common sense at the negotiating table.

"We have put our demands on the table. We want them to be fulfilled. We are not ready for concessions," said Preslav Georgiev - a farmer from Yablanitsa.

"Things go badly if there are no right decisions from the government. They have done us a favor - the whole industry is united in order to defend our interests and prosper in agriculture".

"Give us a chance to work", he urged.

The Prime Minister on the grain producers: The protest has demands that cannot be resolved

"We are having a conversation, the decision whether or not the grain imports will be dropped cannot be taken only by the producers, it is taken by the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly. All the time there was a dialogue and a conversation with the producers. There were diverse interests. The main problem related with imports from Ukraine, which the grain producers put forward, has been resolved. The protest is about demands that cannot be resolved in the way requested. Deadlines are being set that cannot be met," said Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov.

According to the Prime Minister, some of the deadlines are related to notifications from the European Commission.

"There is no way to bypass the EC, the rules must be followed. There is a conflict between grain producers, animal breeders, fruit and vegetable producers and with other industries, their interests are divergent. The main organizers of the protest are the grain producers, when they are ready for a constructive dialogue - yes give a sign and we'll see each other, they refused 2 meetings", Nikolai Denkov also said.

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