Some Bulgarian Agriculture Producers Dissociate from Protests

Society | December 6, 2011, Tuesday // 13:02|  views

Protesting Bulgarian farmers, mostly grain producers, occupied downtown Sofia Tuesday with about 170 tractors parked near the Saint Alexander Nevsky cathedral. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian Association of Agricultural Producers (BAAP) officially dissociated itself Tuesday from requests for resignations of cabinet ministers, voiced earlier by the National Committee for the Protest Actions of Agriculture NGOs.

The statement is addressed to Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, and the Parliament.

In the years since its establishment, the Association has proven that it does not yield to political manipulations and cannot be used as a tool in the hands of political parties. Requests for resignations politicized the protests and blurred the initially set targets, according to BAAP.

"After exhausting all forms of dialogue, including holding protests last week, Bulgarian farmers realize that budgeted funds represent the maximum possible in the current economic crisis. As an Association, uniting the interests of farmers in almost all agriculture sectors, we appreciate the fact that for the first time budgeted funds for 2012 involve also poultry and pig farms, fruits and vegetable growers, beekeepers, potato growers, for which we have insisted for years.

At the same time, we strongly oppose attempts to turn society against farmers and we note that 90% of producers cultivate up to 100 acres; a large percentage of farms have up to 5 cows and finances of these people and their families are well below the country's average. On the other hand side, we stress once again that subsidies are used due to the fact that agriculture is the riskiest sector and to some extent offset a fraction of what farmers put into their business," BAAP point out.

The Association, however, stresses that they continue to insist on clear rules, principles and predictability in Bulgarian agriculture based on uniform regulations such as a Farmers' Code in order to establish constructive dialogue to find solutions to the benefit of all sectors of agriculture.

Meanwhile, protesting Bulgarian farmers, mostly grain producers, have occupied downtown Sofia Tuesday with about 170 tractors parked near the Saint Alexander Nevsky cathedral.

The rally began at noon in pouring rain in front of the cathedral and will be followed by a march to the building of the Council of Ministers. Farming machines will not be part of the procession since the City Hall did not issue a permit for this.

Last week, Bulgarian farmers staged nation-wide protests.

Each year farmers receive EU subsidy, which is determined by the size of their land. The amount slated for 2012 is over BGN 830 M. There are also BGN 110 M in the State budget for grain producers, BGN 71 M for animal keepers and BGN 73 M for tobacco growers.

Grain producers, however, demand another BGN 230 M in the national treasury. The discontent escalated after the passing in the Parliament, at first reading, the draft 2012 budget, where the amount was lower than what was promised by these BGN 230 M. A month before the October 23 local and presidential elections, the cabinet and the farming associations signed a financial frame, which included BGN 570 M for the farming sector.

The farmers accuse Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, of suffering from amnesia and discarding his own signature. They demand his resignation and the resignation of Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov.

BAAP is a non-profit legal entity, registered in September 2004. The organization dedicates its efforts to the protection of its members' interests, providing assistance to their activities and to the resolving of acute problems in the agricultural sector of Bulgaria.

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Tags: farmers, machines, protest, Strike, budget, subsidy, grain producers, animal keepers, tobacco growers, cross-border checkpoints, thoroughfares, block, Miroslav Naydenov, procession, sofia, tractors, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, counterproductive, blockades, Greek farmers, Miroslav Naydenov, Agriculture Minister, GERB, Simeon Djankov


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