Representatives of 26 Bulgarian industry organizations have announced an indefinite nationwide protest. Farmers have driven heavy machinery to block main roads across the country, including border crossings, following Bulgaria’s National Assembly decision to support the lifting of the ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products after 15 September, Forbes Bulgaria reported.
The protesters have five main demands to the Bulgarian government.
The protesters are demanding a further ban on imports of sunflower, wheat, corn, and rapeseed from Ukraine and a ban on imports of unrefined oil, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meat and meat products, live animals, honey and bee products from Ukraine, as well as strengthening control over the origin, quality, and safety of agricultural products imported into the country.
The farmers’ community also demands that the government pay farmers the full compensation for increased production costs due to the war in Ukraine by 30 September 2023 and lift the restrictions on the amount of aid.
The requests also include providing the necessary funds for the re-notification of existing and new state subsidies, including minimum subsidies for producers of grapes, potatoes, raspberries, greenhouse products, and tobacco, as well as for livestock farmers and honey producers.
The EU imposed a ban on Ukrainian agricultural products in May 2023 as a temporary measure temporary measure “to avoid market distortions.” The decision followed unilateral bans in five EU countries bordering Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, in what has been called “blackmail” of the EU commission.
The EU lifted the ban on Ukrainian agricultural products on 15 September 2023, after Ukraine agreed to introduce legal measures within 30 days to avoid grain surges and ensure fair competition.
However, some EU countries, such as Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, decided to extend their own national bans on Ukrainian products, citing the need to protect their farmers and food security.