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Agriculture Minister: Farm subsidies ensured for 2024

Farm subsidies will be ensured in 2024, the minister of agriculture said on Tuesday, pledging 650 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn) of central budget funding to complement European Union rural development monies.

Speaking at his year-opening press conference, Istvan Nagy said EU sanctions against Russia and “the dumping of Ukrainian imports on the EU” were challenging, but the achievements of recent years underpinned the expectation that Hungarian agriculture would continue to thrive.

The minister said agricultural subsidies awarded to Hungarian producers hit a record high in 2023, exceeding a total 1,300 billion forints, and thanks to central budget co-financing, the government had managed to hand over subsidies in 2024 that were generous “even by European standards”.

The Hungarian government is planning to retain its ban on Ukrainian imports in 2024, and “relies on support from other EU members”, the minister said. Ukraine’s possible accession to the EU would seriously impact European producers since “they could not compete with Ukraine’s farms of hundreds of thousands of hectares”, he added.

The minister said ensuring subsidies and subsidised loans to farmers would continue to be a government priority. “While in other states of Europe producers are faced with cuts, in Hungary both large and small farms are offered opportunities to become more efficient,” he said. Hungary’s agricultural tenders “are transparent and predictable”, he added.

Those tenders will ensure a total 1,500 billion forints for economic developments and 1,000 billion forints for projects “to build a green future”, the minister said.

Concerning Hungary’s European Union presidency in the second half of the year, Nagy said the government had “clear-cut” plans. The six months available must be used “to revise crisis-management measures with special regard to market and climatic conditions, and Europe’s food security,” he said.

Fast changes necessitate boosting agricultural and food research to increase adaptability, he said, adding that increasing effectiveness, building systems to ensure joint purchases and sensibly using resources were top priorities.

Shifting to specialised production or ecological production could be a viable option for many farms, the minister said, adding that such products would also apply for assistance from next year on.

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