Hundreds of farmers blocked roads throughout Serbia's northern breadbasket region of Vojvodina on Monday, demanding more subsidies and an end to excise duties on fuel.
The blockades that brought parts of Vojvodina to a standstill, come at a time when the ruling Serbian Progressive Party and its partners are locked in a heated campaign with the opposition ahead of a Dec. 17 snap parliamentary vote.
Farmers, supported by opposition parties and movements in Vojvodina, want the outgoing government of Ana Brnabic to increase state subsidies to 35,000 dinars ($326) per hectare, from around 9000 currently.
Jovan Jovanov, a farmer, said protesters blocked a highway and a road junction near the regional capital of Novi Sad on Monday.
"This morning we blocked the ... highway ... we will allow vehicles through every two and a half hours," Jovanov told reporters.
Farmers are also demanding state-subsidised loans in 2024, incentives for cattle and dairy production, sales of diesel fuel without an excise tax, and regulation of the commodities market, among other things.
Agriculture minister Jelena Tanaskovic last week said total agricultural subsidies in the 2024 budget amounted to 100 billion dinars, requesting that farmers propose how to distribute the funds.
Further talks between the government and farmers have been announced for later in the day.
In 2022, agriculture accounted for more than 6.7% of Serbia's economy and over 21% of exports.
($1 = 107.2200 Serbian dinars) (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)