The Ministry of Agriculture wholeheartedly supports the petition launched by the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK) and the Hungarian Association of Farmers’ Cooperatives (Magosz) for maintaining the level of agricultural subsidies provided by the European Union. A national roadshow will be initiated to promote that cause, Agriculture Minister István Nagy announced at a press conference in Budapest on Tuesday.

As the Minister explained, the European Commission plans to significantly decrease the budget of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2020. Among other effects, the funding cut would halt the sector’s development and render it difficult for people in the countryside to make a living.

This is totally unacceptable because it would be detrimental to the sector and also the future of Hungary as a whole. According to Mr. Nagy, lowering CAP subsidies would not be advisable because the income of Hungarian farmers is already too low, and the European Union is introducing increasingly stringent expectations with relation to environmental sustainability and mitigating of the effects of climate change. “If all that were not enough, the bureaucrats in Brussels want to use the funds withdrawn from agriculture to fund the resettlement of immigrants and the management of the crisis situations cause by immigrants”, the Minister added.

As Mr. Nagy explained, the question of migration arose again during the planning of the Common Agricultural Policy for the period after 2020. The EU’s draft budget published last May called for a separate migration budget and for lower CAP funding. Accordingly, the support to be withdrawn from the CAP would be spent on the settlement of migrants and their integration into rural communities. If these measures are realised and the new draft budget is approved, Hungarian farmers could lose significant EU funding.

The Minister hopes that the future of rural areas will be decided by a European Parliament that has an anti-immigration majority.

Mr. Nagy encouraged all Hungarian citizens to support the initiative by signing the petition online (on, or on paper at local agricultural officers or county agricultural directorates.

Zsolt Nyitrai, the Prime Minister’s commissioner for key social matters, added that almost half a million farmers work in the country, so agriculture secures the living of many Hungarian families. In his opinion, the European Commission’s plan to reduce agricultural development funding is outrageous, unprofessional and unacceptable.

Welcoming the civil initiative of Magosz and the NAK, Mr. Nyitrai said that the petition is not only about the country’s farmers and farms but also about all Hungarians. The petition can be signed by anybody who disagrees with the Brussels bureaucrats’ plan to reallocate much of the money earmarked for agricultural development to the support and management of migration. “One of the issues at stake at the upcoming European election is the protection of Hungarian farmers”, he declared.

NAK chairman Balázs Győrffy said that the petition had been signed by more than ten thousand people by Monday evening. The current plan includes the withdrawal of some 20-25% of the total CAP budget, which means a reduction of 15-20 thousand forints in subsidies per hectare.