Protesting Bulgarian farmers flood Sofia streets with milk

Protesting Bulgarian farmers flood Sofia streets with milk
Farmers tip milk onto the road as they demand higher subsidies from the Bulgarian government. / Association of Agricultural Producers in Bulgaria
By bne IntelliNews February 14, 2024

Bulgarian dairy farmers flooded the street in front of the government building with milk on February 13, urging the cabinet of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov to provide higher subsidies and change a deal on compensation for farmers whose businesses were hurt by Ukrainian imports.

The latest protest took place despite the government reaching agreements with several farmers’ organisations on February 12 and 13 in an attempt to stop the series of protests in the country. 

Farmers in Bulgaria began protests two weeks ago, as part of demonstrations by farmers across the European Union, demanding more subsidies and better policies to help them respond to climate change. 

On top of that, farmers across the eastern part of the EU say they have been badly affected by cheap imports from Ukraine, after the EU opened up to the Ukrainian market following Russia’s invasion in 2022. 

Earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev warned that the Ukrainian imports are flooding the market and that could cause problems with local production that cannot be sold.

Bulgaria's government said it has signed an agreement for state support measures with two agricultural organisations that include several sectors amid ongoing protests of farmers across the country.

The agreement, signed late on February 12 with the Bulgarian Agrarian Chamber and the National Grain Producer Association, secures financial aid for the fruit, vegetables, livestock, dairy, meat, beekeeping and grain production sectors. The first payments will be made by April 22, the government said in a statement.

However, a committee comprising representatives of 26 agricultural organisations, rejected the agreement and continued the protests. These farmers demand policies that would protect the interests of all agricultural sectors and the immediate resignation of Vatev, saying that protests will continue in Sofia and on 25 roads across the country.

On February 13, Vatev reached an agreement with five of these organisations, according to a statement from the agriculture ministry. These five organisations will stop protests.

Vatev said the agreement includes 12 points and should be signed in the following days. Producers of mushrooms, nuts and potatoes will be provided state aid from budget funds.

The agriculture minister and the representatives of farmers have also agreed to form a working group to discuss the needs of the sector and policies that would help the agricultural sector increase productivity and become more competitive.