Minister of Agriculture and Food Kiril Vatev held an online meeting with EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to discuss the State aid Temporary Framework regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine. The main topic of discussion was Bulgaria's request for the removal of the state aid ceiling.
MinisterVatev thanked the European Commission for the decision, which changes the ceiling from EUR 250,000 to EUR 280,000 and extends the duration until June 2024.
Minister Vatev once again highlighted the problems of Bulgarian farmers and breeders. Executive Director of the State Fund Agriculture Georgi Tahov explained to the EU Commissioner the difference in support in other member states, which is per farm, while in Bulgaria it is per animal and per hectare. He specified that for this reason some farms reached the aid ceiling already in 2022. Minister Vatev pointed out that although the ceiling had been reached by some farms, they had submitted their applications and the state had allocated the necessary funds. It is expected that a larger number of farms will reach the ceiling next year and will therefore be excluded from the possibility of support, minister Vatev informed.
The need for additional support is determined by the situation of ongoing war, inflationary factors and rising prices of fertilizers, crop protection products, fuels, energy sources and feeds, which leads to high cost at low purchase price, minister Vatev further noted.
Commissioner Wojciechowski said that since the beginning of the implementation of the measure until November 2023, Bulgaria has supported its farmers with nearly EUR 500 million, which puts it in fourth place among EU member states in terms of paid state aid. He made a comparison in terms of the percentage of paid state aid to the value of the agricultural production, whereby Bulgaria ranks second in the EU with 8.6%. Wojciechowski said he respected the efforts made by the Bulgarian ministry and government to protect its farmers.
He expressed his understanding for the problems of Bulgarian agriculture and promised to present Bulgaria's requests to the EC, stressing that the state aid cannot be unlimited and that no similar request has been received so far from other member states. He pointed out that the Bulgarian government is making great efforts to support farmers with state aid under the Temporary Framework for the period from April 2022 to November 2023.