site.btaAnimal Farmers Demand Quick Compensation Payments, Threaten Protests on Election Day

Animal Farmers Demand Quick Compensation Payments, Threaten Protests on Election Day
Animal Farmers Demand Quick Compensation Payments, Threaten Protests on Election Day
BTA photo

Animal farmers on Tuesday raised a set of demands aimed at "saving Bulgarian milk and resisting the deliberate ruin of Bulgarian milk production". Speaking at a BTA-hosted news conference in Sofia, they said they want the compensation payments for damage related to the Ukraine war to be made by the end of this week. They also insist that financial support should be distributed equally between small and large animal farmers; the type of aid which is not contingent on a farmer's output should not be lower than the current rates of BGN 150 per cow and BGN 350 per buffalo; and support for raising autochthonous breeds should not be reduced.

Boiko Sinapov, President of the United Bulgarian Stockbreeders Association, called for the resignation of Agriculture and Food Minister Kiril Vatev and his entire staff. They said they will hold protests on Sunday (when Bulgarians will be voting in local elections) unless their demands are met by then.

Dimitar Zorov, who heads the National Union of Cattle Breeders in Bulgaria, said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has not fulfilled the farmers' repeated requests. He argued that the compensation payments for damage related to the Ukraine war are far smaller than the scale of the damage. About 100 companies forming the backbone of milk production in Bulgaria have not received a penny, despite a memorandum signed last month, Zarov said.

He cited a survey showing that the average investment in a single cow was between EUR 12,000 and EUR 15,000 before the war in Ukraine, and rose to more than EUR 20,000 after the war started.

Zarov estimated that support for animal farmers will decrease by between 40% and 50% next year. The kind of aid which is contingent on a farmer's output is BGN 411 per animal for small farmers and BGN 320 per animal for farmers raising more than 150 animals. This compares to BGN 500 paid last year. Non-contingent payments are distributed at a rate of BGN 76 per animal, compared with BGN 190 previously.

According to the President of the Association of Buffalo Breeders in Bulgaria, Maria Stepancheva, last month's memorandum was signed by just a couple of people from the sector. She argued that "de minimis" aid should be available to all, up to the EUR 25,000 limit set by an EU regulation. She noted that larger animal producers in Bulgaria are being discriminated against on grounds of business size.

Boiko Sinapov said that import accounts for 50% of milk on the Bulgarian market. He added that Bulgaria is the EU's largest market in deep-frozen meat older than six months.

A year from now, aid beneficiaries will have to meet a social responsibility requirement: they will need to employ a certain number of workers for a certain number of cows or calves, said Penka Hristova of the Union of Stockbreeders, who co-chairs the Institute of Women Farmers.

Fruit and vegetable growers, too, demanded that by the end of this week they should receive their due compensation for damage inflicted by the war in Ukraine. They warned that, otherwise, their greenhouses will remain empty for the winter.

Velin Georgiev, a representative of greenhouse growers, said they have sent at least five letters to Agriculture and Food Minister Kiril Vatev asking to meet with him. Georgiev spoke about problems related to greenhouse heating costs. According to him, greenhouse growing is barely surviving.

/NZ/

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By 02:58 on 17.04.2024 Today`s news

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