Bulgaria's State Fund Agriculture said that it would provide low-interest loans to agricultural producers to purchase machines and equipment. The loans would carry an interest rate of six per cent, below the reference interest rate in the European Union.Since the lending scheme was not considered state aid, no permission was required from the European Commission, the Fund said. Until now, the SFA has extended farm loans with an interest of three per cent, too low not to be considered state aid.At the end of 2009, the three-year grace period expired when Bulgaria could continue to apply existing agriculture state aid without notification from the Commission.Farmers will be eligible to receive up to two million leva each and up to six million leva for hothouse construction, which is a more capital-intensive investment.The Fund said that it had also agreed to finance up to 80 per cent of vegetable growers' costs on insuring their produce. A total of four million leva had been allocated for this purpose. Applications were accepted between April 1 and August 31 2010. The money should be paid out by December 15.