Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas reported to Parliament’s Agriculture Committee on the state of Hungarian agriculture.

Mr. Fazekas told the commission that Hungarian agriculture had broken records in 2014, achieving the highest ever recorded output of 2410 billion forints (EUR 7.7bn) last year, and stressed that this was due to both the efforts of Hungarian farmers and the fact that the state had provided the required funding in due time.

The Minister declared that agriculture had also stood its ground in 2015, with an increase in animal stocks. Although Hungarian agriculture this year was confounded by extremely hot weather and the effects of the Russian embargo, it still performed fairly well. Targets have been successfully achieved overall, because the increase in output continued and both cattle and poultry stocks increased in 2015.

Animal husbandry is receiving an extra 212 billion forints (EUR 680M) in funding until 2020 within the framework of the “More Jobs in Agriculture!” programme.

Mr. Fazekas called the reduction of the VAT rate a significant achievement, stressing that VAT on pork would also be cut from January 2016. Ha also noted that Hungary is in a difficult situation because of the Russian embargo, in addition to which an unfavourable situation has developed within the milk sector, but the Ministry of exploiting every possible opportunity to counterbalance this. The administration is continuously searching for new markets and meetings are taking place regularly within the EU in the interests of helping Hungarian farmers.

Mr. Fazekas called the Ministry’s pig strategy a success and stressed that both pig stocks and the number of enterprises involved in pig breeding is increasing. The pig campaign will continue, he declared.

With relation to GMO-free soy production, the Minister said that the government’s goal is for the expansion of these cultivation areas to continue, with 50% growth achieved during the past 18 months. Mr. Fazekas also mentioned the Land for Farmers Programme as a priority area. There are currently 7800 land lease agreements in Hungary and there will soon be more land auctions that cater for the needs of farmers. He declared that the areas of land to be sold off do not include forests or conservation areas that cannot be sold according to law. Some 20% of the total area of state-owned land will be put up for auction, and the vast majority of plots are under 10 hectares, the Minister stressed.

On the subject of food chain monitoring, Mr. Fazekas said that food safety is the most important goal, in addition to developing consumer awareness. He said that the National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO) is giving priority attention to inspections and monitoring, which are extremely successful. He also mentioned that public awareness of the NFCSO had tripled during the past year, stressing that the Office publishes the results of its inspections so they serve as a deterrent and the public is informed about everything.

The Minister also mentioned that this year’s National Agriculture and Food Industry Exhibition and Fair (OMÉK) had been held within the framework of the Year of Local Products, with a record number of exhibitors. With relation to vocational schools maintained by the Ministry of Agriculture, he said that there is heightened interest in agriculture-related studies.

(Ministry of Agriculture)