Protesting farmers threaten to occupy Bulgarian capital

Protesting farmers threaten to occupy Bulgarian capital
/ Bulgarian Agrarian Chamber via Facebook
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia February 6, 2024

Bulgarian farmers blocked key roads across the country for few hours on February 6, and said they will increase the time roads are closed every day until their demands for more subsidies and the resignation of Agriculture Minister Kiril Vutev are met.

Farmers also threaten to occupy the capital Sofia if they fail to reach an agreement with the government of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, Kostadin Kostadinov from the Bulgarian Agrarian Chamber said.

The protesters do not accept the government’s proposal to get more subsidies if they prove they posted losses in 2023.

They claim the government's formula for calculating subsidies is not correct, and say it should include the previous two years as well.

“The government cannot subsidise grain producers who could not have ended 2023 with a profit either with state, or with EU funds,” Denkov said as quoted in a statement.

He added he could not understand why grain producers refuse to prove they posted losses for last year by filing their tax declarations.

Denkov added that grain production has been among the most profitable sectors over the past years, with profit of more than BGN2bn (€1bn) for 2021 and BGN3bn for 2022.

Farmers protests have broken out in multiple countries across the EU, as farmers struggle with high costs of fuel and other inputs combined with low retail prices. Farmers in the eastern part of the bloc are also unhappy with the arrival of cheap imports from Ukraine, whose producers were given access to EU markets in a bid to support the country after Russia’s invasion in 2022. 

The new wave of protests in Bulgaria started shortly after the government of neighbouring Romania reached a deal with farmers and truckers, who had been blocking roads for weeks.