Bulgarian agricultural producers’ protest ends with signing of memo with government

A protest by various agricultural producers against imports of foodstuffs from Ukraine and other grievances ended on September 20 with the signing of agreement that followed negotiations with the Nikolai Denkov government.

Denkov told a news conference after the signing that “in the constructive negotiations that we have held yesterday and today, there are no losers and no losers. Everyone wins”.

Iliya Prodanov, head of the National Association of Grain Producers and one of the organisers of the protest, said that he hoped that all the measures agreed on would have an effect in the long term.

The catalyst for the protests was the Bulgaria’s Parliament’s decision on September 14 that a ban on imports of various basic foodstuffs from Ukraine should not be extended.

In talks preceding the signing of the agreement, the government agreed that imports of Ukrainian sunflower seeds would be allowed into Bulgaria only after there was clarity on the quotas.

The memorandum provides for a continuation of the ban on the import of sunflower from Ukraine until production quantities for the 2022/23 financial year and determination of the necessary quantities needed by processing enterprises.

Negotiations are underway with the European Commission (EC) to ban imports from Ukraine of agricultural crops exceeding 10 per cent of the volume of net national production. A licensing system for the import of wheat, corn and rapeseed will be developed, in accordance with the agreement between Ukraine and the EC, the memorandum says.

The memorandum notes the 150 million leva state aid approved by the EC to support the liquidity of farmers to overcome the negative economic impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine for the amount of BGN 150 million.

The memo envisages “maximum efforts” to shorten the deadline for an EC decision on approval by the end of September of an additional 63 million leva aid. Prime Minister Denkov’s Cabinet, meeting on September 20, agreed to allocate an additional 63 million leva via the State Fund Agriculture to support farmers and to compensate for increased costs of energy, fodder, plant protection substances, fuel and fertiliser.

It envisages the preparation of a national position to be adopted by the government for negotiations with the EC on amending the ceiling for aid because of the war in Ukraine.

Farmers who submitted an application by September 26 for state aid to compensate for 100 per cent lost areas, after processing of the applications, will receive support within three working days, according to the memo.

It also provides for de minimis aid to the amount of 71 million leva to be distributed in equal parts to support agricultural production in the livestock sector, including honey and the plant cultivation sector.

The memo says that dairy farmers who cannot sell their goods because of imports of powdered milk from Ukraine should receive support on the basis of force majeure and after permission from the EC.

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