Hundreds of Bulgarian farmers block roads in EU protest against cheap Ukraine imports

AFP , Tuesday 6 Feb 2024

Hundreds of Bulgarian farmers blocked roads across the country on Tuesday to protest against tightening EU regulations and to demand more compensation for losses engendered by cheap imports from war-torn Ukraine.

Bulgaria farmers  protests
Bulgarian farmers drive their tractors during a protest action to block the road between Breznik and the Serbian border, in Breznik, western Bulgaria, on February 6, 2024. AFP


Protests by the agriculture sector have sprung up all over the European Union in recent weeks.

Demonstrations in France and Romania have lost steam but farmers in the Netherlands, Spain, Latvia and Italy are pressing home multiple demands.

"We are on the edge. Small and medium-sized agricultural producers in Bulgaria are set to go bankrupt if there is no change, if there is no immediate payment of delayed subsidies and no support for the damages we suffer from the war in Ukraine," grain producer Ventsislav Mitkov, 42, told AFP at a road block near the small western town of Breznik.

Mitkov and several dozen farmers from the region blocked a road to Serbia with their tractors for about two hours and vowed to join a bigger blockade in the nearby town of Pernik on Wednesday.

There, a handful of farmers also gathered on Tuesday to move slowly along a key junction on the highway linking the capital Sofia to Greece, blowing their tractors' horns and hindering traffic.

"They make prices go down by importing cheap produce from countries outside the EU, at the same time slapping on us various new restrictions that do not allow us to be competitive," farmer Miloslav Mihaylov, 35, fumed about EU rules.

Farmers -- mostly from the country's grain production sector -- are vowing to maintain road blocks until the end of the week if their demands are not met.

They want greater compensation for being undercut by cheaper imports from Ukraine.

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