Dairy farmers went on protest across the country on Wednesday morning. They blocked roads and staged protest rallies. Clashes with police were reported near the Northwestern village of Altimir, BTA reported.
The road between Stara Zagora and Kazanluk was blocked by the farmers for a half-hour from 10 in the morning. In nearby Sliven, some 100 farmers from Sliven, Yambol and Sredets joined a peaceful rally for one and a half hour at noon. The Silistra-Dobrich road in Northern Bulgaria was also blocked for a half-hour by farmers from several municipalities in Silistra, Dobrich and Razgrad Regions.
The leader of the National Association of Milk Producers, Adrian Tsakonski, and seven other protesters were arrested when 150 farmers tried to block traffic on the road between Vratsa and Oryahovo (on the Danube) at noon. Police said the farmers had failed to secure the necessary authorization for the protest.
In another incident, police did not allow protesting farmers to lead a herd of 300 sheep and goats on the Varna-Sofia road at the village of Sheremetya (near Veliko Turnovo). It took the farmers and 20 police a half-hour trying to steer the animals away from the road and onto the roadside meadows.
Payment of a year-round subsidy of 0.20 leva per litre of high-quality raw milk produced and sold tops the list of the farmers' demands. They are also pressing for a reduction of value added tax on agricultural products, a change of the excise duty on fuels for animal husbandry, quality control of the milk and meat products placed on the market, introduction of an identification system so as to receive direct payments per animal head as from January 1, 2009, and introduction of a mechanism to guarantee minimum purchase prices of meat and milk. Stockbreeders also insist on being allocated state- and municipal-owned land for pastures free of charge.
Announcing their plans for a staged protest on Tuesday, dairy farmers said if no deal is reached with the Government, there will be a national strike in early September. Tsakonski also said Tuesday the protest actions might escalate into civil disobedience until their demands are fully met.
Milk producers said their indefinite protests would start from six administrative regions on Wednesday with a 30-minute blocking of road traffic at Tervel, Veliko Turnovo, Vratsa, Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, Kurdjali and Gotse Delchev. The duration of the blockade will be increased by 15 minutes every day.