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Protesting Greek Farmers Promised Subsidies After Blocking Roads

ATHENS – An almost annual event – protesting Greek farmers blocking highways with their tractors and demanding more state help – paid off fast this time with the New Democracy government saying they will be getting more aid.

That came after farmers in the central region of Thessaly set up tractor blockades to prevent traffic from moving on some roads as they insisted on getting more assistance because of price hikes in energy, fertilizers and pesticides, and warning it would keep up otherwise, said Kathimerini.

Rural Development Minister Spilios Livanos said the government would hand out 170 million euros ($195 million) in subsidies to them and support the industry that’s essential to the country and economy.

That’s part of a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) although the government – which got 32 billion euros ($37 billion) in European Union COVID-19 loans and grants to help ease the crisis – has been also propping up workers and businesses.

The measures include power bill subsidies for the period between August to December 2021 at a cost of 50 million euros ($57.25 million) and will continue at least through February, 2022 for electric bills.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) on fertilizers will also be cut from 13 percent to 6 percent at a cost of 20 million euros ($22.9 million) to the state, with no accounting where all the EU money is going.

“This government, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally, has demonstrated his belief that the primary sector is the backbone of growth for our national economy,” Livanos said.

“In this difficult time of multiple and major imported crises, we stand by producers with deeds, not words. The government, in 2021, despite the tight fiscal framework, supported our farmers with 1 billion euros, ($1.14 billion,) he added.

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