The Agricultural Ecology Program is popular

By: STA Date: 2023. 12. 07. 09:30

Farmers with nearly 488,000 hectares of grassland applied to the framework of the new Agricultural Ecology Program in this year’s inaugural year. Next year, in order to facilitate an even wider reach of the support, the Ministry of Agriculture plans to expand the program with additional optional exercises – emphasized the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture responsible for agriculture and rural development on Tuesday in Keszthely.

(Photo: AM/Tibor Vermes)

Zsolt Feldman spoke at the agricultural forum of the Association of Zala County Farmers’ Associations about how the biggest change in agriculture this year was the application of the Agrarian Ecology Program (AÖP), for which 15 percent of the EU area-based subsidies, around 200 million euros, must be spent. 62,000 Hungarian farmers chose this option for 4.1 million hectares of the 5.1 million hectares of agricultural land. He also mentioned that the first amendment of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan is now underway, after the regulation of the conditions and requirements of the EU funds was created last year, but the change became necessary based on the experience of legislation and grant applications in the past year. This amendment is expected to be adopted in January 2024, the most significant changes are expected to be in the expansion of the number of practices that lawn farmers can choose. As the state secretary explained: according to the previous rule, if the farmers participating in the AÖP cannot fulfill their commitments, they will lose the full support. During the negotiations in Brussels, however, it was possible to achieve at least 30-50 percent of the support in case of partial fulfillment. Zsolt Feldman highlighted: in the European Union’s agricultural support system, which has changed this year compared to the previous one, 125,000 farmers received an advance of about HUF 168 billion by the end of November. In the past two years, Hungarian agriculture was able to develop with HUF 1,200 billion in newly awarded funds, and this year alone, nearly HUF 750 billion will be paid in connection with the rural development program. By the end of the year, the advance and partial payments in connection with the uniform applications submitted this year will eventually reach HUF 270 billion, according to plans. He indicated that due to the difficult market environment in agriculture, they are trying to make loans financeable with interest subsidies, which is also served by the latest construction of the Agrár Széchenyi Card. Today, nearly 80 percent of farmers’ loans are interest-subsidized schemes, the state secretary added.

The new application system will start next year, the main aspect of which is to maintain continuity, so the first applications will be announced in February

Zsolt Feldman also mentioned that the duty-free appearance of Ukrainian agricultural products in Europe has completely changed the agricultural market environment. Due to the permanent presence of Ukrainian agriculture, Hungarian farmers also have to adapt, it is worth focusing on improving efficiency and growing more specialized field crops, for which there is a strong demand. Balázs Győrffy, the president of the National Chamber of Agrarian Economy, believed that the agricultural companies operating in Ukraine are forced to sell. By the way, the largest such enterprises are in Saudi, Western European and mostly American hands. However, there is also a problem with Ukrainian grain, that it appeared not only in Hungary, but also in those markets where Hungarian farmers have sold so far, such as Italy, he added.

The chamber president also reported that due to the increase in administrative burdens for farmers, the network of village farmers is being expanded by using the resources of the rural development program

Balázs Győrffy also touched on the experiences of the ice damage mitigation system, according to which in 2017, before the start of the system, farmers suffered ice damage on 72,000 hectares, but this year only 30,500 hectares. Over time, the system will be automated, because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people to launch the missiles manually. He also reported a change with regard to game damage, as the chamber decided to set up a claims manager, which would take over the game damage of vulnerable farmers and settle it with those entitled to hunt instead. About HUF 3 billion is the annually compensated agricultural wildlife damage, but according to expert estimates, about HUF 21 billion would be justified – Balázs Győrffy argued. István Jakab, the vice-president of the Parliament and the president of MAGOSZ, emphasized that Hungary is not willing to leave a single cent of the money owed to it in the European Union budget. For this, it is also necessary to ensure that there are no errors in the submission of grant applications, and the expansion of the village farmer network is also for this, he said. He also spoke about how Russian agriculture benefited from the European embargo, because it received larger sums for improvements to increase the average yield. At the same time, in Ukrainian agriculture, they produce with a significant yield, namely with the most modern American machines, but MAGOSZ’s tests identified chemical substances that had long been banned in the European Union.


Related news