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Urgent measures to save agriculture expected from new cabinet

Photo: БГНЕС

Today is the first working day of the new regular government and this is perhaps a time for all sectors of the Bulgarian economy to heave a sigh of relief.

Indeed, one reason is that the limited powers of any caretaker government largely preclude legislative change. And change is vital, especially for growing industries like Bulgarian agriculture.

Livestock farmers, producers of seasonal fruit and vegetables, and grain growers - as wheat, sunflower and other cereal production is a major industry - are the worst affected by the country's long political impasse. The most serious problem that is well on the way to destroying entire agricultural sectors, and traditional ones at that, is the unregulated import of cheap produce from abroad.

The Ministry of Agriculture needs to start working for Bulgaria's national security, urged Tancho Kolev, chairman of the National Association of Meat and Dairy Producers. - For feeding the population is a matter of national security. He criticized the policy of promoting the consumption of substitute products instead of natural ones, which he said would lead to "the complete destruction of the livestock industry in Bulgaria." The overproduction of articles with a powdered milk composition has led to a twofold fall in the country's farm-gate price for fresh milk. In two months the price has fallen from 0.50 to 0.25 euros, Tancho Kolev told BNR - Stara Zagora.

"After the end of this interregnum, the problem in the dairy sector should be solved first", said in an interview for BNR's Horizon programme Mihail Mihailov from the Union of Cattle Breeders in Bulgaria.

An alert was sent to BNR by the only producers of the delicacy Gornooryakhovski Sudzhuk. This is the first traditional Bulgarian food product protected by the EU. However, it is produced only from high-quality beef, and such raw material is now hardly available in Bulgaria, they alarm. Imported meat from Romania is of very good quality, but is priced too high and ultimately affects the price of production. Rumiana Dobreva is a representative of one of the meat processing companies in Gorna Oryahovitsa and says the problem is long-standing:

"Meat breeds are quite expensive and they are no longer breeded in Bulgaria because of the strict regulations introduced in slaughterhouses after our country joined the EU, which is why there is a lack of beef on the market. Then many of the slaughterhouses closed down and even if cattle farmers kept animals, they had no place to slaughter them. That started the decline in production. Otherwise, there are European programmes, but first we need to stabilise things in the