Similar to other areas of the economy, until the end of June employers will be exempt from the payment of contributions and taxes on their workers’ wages in the sectors most in trouble due to the forced suspension of activities in tourism and catering, including plant nurseries, wine and grape producers, pálinka distilleries, small-scale beer breweries and game management service providers, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy said before the Tuesday online press conference of the Operational Group.

Additionally, from among contributions, workers are only required to pay the 4 per cent in-kind health insurance contribution, at the maximum rate of HUF 7,710. The epidemic broke in two the activities of plant nurseries at the worst possible time, during the most important sales period, and therefore the government believes that the relief measures should also be extended to them, he added.

It is substantial financial help for even the smallest agricultural producers that they have decided to make the any-purpose Rural Széchenyi Overdraft Facility with a term of up to three years free, and the doubling of the maximum available credit line. This means that they have increased the maximum amount of credit in the case of new credit contracts concluded up to the end of the year from the present HUF 100 million to HUF 200 million. The Ministry of Agriculture has raised the interest and guarantee fee support also provided at present from fiscal resources to 100 per cent, and has agreed to reimburse 100 per cent of the costs related to the conclusion and maintenance of credit contracts.

Mr Nagy pointed out that, in the case of the Rural Széchenyi Card, the 18,600 credit transactions concluded so far and facilities worth HUF 200 billion placed as part of those transactions clearly show that it is indeed easy to access these funds; hence the key role it has played in the rise in the lending provided for small farms in recent years. As part of the measures seeking to provide easy access to cheap credit, in the interest of reducing the fees of guarantees provided for loans and credit facilities by the Rural Credit Guarantee Foundation, they have decided to raise the fiscal support provided in connection with these fees to 0.75 per cent.

The Minister highlighted that the government’s economic measures announced so far are an enormous help for the some 300,000 farms and businesses operating in agriculture and the food industry. The full credit debt repayment moratorium extending to the end of the year and the accelerated VAT refunding procedures all seek to stabilise their financial situation. The ongoing disbursement of agricultural grants and the relief measures introduced in the grant system, in particular, in procedures relating to the projects of the Rural Development Programme, also contribute to the availability of the financial resources necessary for production.

In its package of proposals, the Ministry of Agriculture has identified a number of further possible interventions. It includes short-term crisis management measures as well as plans and programmes relating to investment projects which seek to boost the restarting of the economy. Also to date, agriculture has played a key role in the Economy Protection Action Plan. Last week, a package of measures offering targeted assistance to agriculture was also released, said the Minister of Agriculture who sincerely hopes that the proposals now adopted by the government will serve to fight the difficulties the sector is being faced with as effectively as possible.

He also said in the past few weeks they had worked hard to create the conditions for the production of foodstuffs and for their safe channelling to consumers. In recent weeks, he has visited a number of food industry companies and farmers, they have processed the proposals prepared by professional organisations for the Economy Protection Action Plan, and have compiled their own package of proposals concerning agriculture and the food industry based on these. The most important goals are to ensure the availability of sales opportunities, revenues and the work force necessary for the operation of farms.

In this spirit, in an open letter the Minister asked retail chains and domestic suppliers operating in Hungary to favour Hungarian products over imports. To this end, he fought hard to ensure that local governments keep markets open, subject to the observance of the disease control regulations, so that people have access to the products of Hungarian small producers. Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched an Internet website at as an online medium through which they can present the seasonal job opportunities offered by agricultural businesses to as many Hungarians as possible, thereby creating a chance to earn a living to those who have lost their livelihoods in other sectors of the economy on a permanent or temporary basis, Mr Nagy added.

(Ministry of Agriculture/MTI)