Hungary Newsflash Week 42

Budapest Climate Summit, organic farming, nature protection, animal disease prevention subsidy - The week in Hungarian agriculture

A shopping basket with vegetables
Beeld: ©.
The National Chamber of Agriculture continues its negotiations with grocery chains for Hungarian products to get a larger share on the shelves of supermarkets.

Budapest Climate Summit takes place

On Octobert 9, the Budapest Climate Summit took place at Mariot Hotel in Budapest, with the participation of business leaders, policy makers and stakeholders from Hungary and the broader region. The event was launched by Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics and the online streamed keynote speech of Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal and European Commissioner for Climate Action Frans Timmermans. The conference involved talk panels with company leaders on the topics of the carbon-free economy and sustainable transportation, as well as smart urban revolution and sustainable investment. Various topics on sustainability were discussed at the event from the importance of forestry to the role of nuclear energy.

€6.8 million for pig and poultry disease prevention

In May, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a tender for disease prevention subsidies. The €5.5 million subsidy scheme was intended to aid the enhancement of animal disease prevention measures at poultry and pig farms. By October, 349 applications have been recieved, 195 were approved and the budget was increased to €6.8 million. In their press release, the Ministry highlighted that while investment subsidies increase competitiveness, they also aid in solving veterinary crises, which make up for one of the most crucial issues of animal husbandry today.

NAK lobbies for more domestic products in groceries

The National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK), the largest agricultural industrial union in Hungary, continues lobbying for a larger share of domestic products in Hungary’s grocery retail chains and supermarkets. The Chamber has been campaigning for a better position for Hungarian products in groceries since the spring – In April, they lobbied for the Ministry of Agriculture to force shops to sell more domestic products using punitive measures as incentive. Out of the leading grocery chains, NAK has so far negotiated with Spar, Penny, Auchan, Lidl and Aldi, and they are now planning on opening discussions with CBA and Coop. The union commented in their press release that “domestic consumers are searching for Hungarian products, and Hungarian producers are able to supply the market with fresh, high quality fruits and vegetables.”

Poultry export restrictions lifted

At the end of last week, Japanese and Thai authorities lifted their respective import restrictions on Hungarian poultry, put in place due to the spring Avian influenza outbreak. Chief Veterinary Officer Lajos Bognár has been in constant talks with third country authorities since the start of the outbreak, commented the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH), which is why key target countries like Thailand and Japan have only been enforcing partial bans, limited to regional products from the counties Bács-Kiskun and Békés. Previously, the spring 2020 Avian influenza outbreak had come to an official end on September 8, when Hungary, in line with the regulations of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), was reclassified as free of Avian influenza.

Jars of honey on a table
Beeld: ©PollyDot
Domestic beekeepers say Hungarian honey will last until the end of the year - But more cooperation between national alliances would be needed to better the position of European honey on the common market.

Beekepers: The honey supply will last the year

Answering a September press release by a honey trading union, which stated that Hungarian honey production had so low yields this year that the domestic supply will run out soon, producers and the national apiculture alliance responded with confirmations on the availability of domestic supply at least until the end of the year.

Hungarian beekeepers experienced difficulties this year due to the spring weather extremities, yet the pandemic presented a unique opportunity to producers all over Europe: As the ripples of the crisis hit international trade and import honey started to run low in harbor storages across the EU, a window of opportunity started opening for higher-quality, lower quantity European honey to regain market share from the cheaper Chinese products.

The national apiculture sector is now hoping for a few key changes, reports the news portal Magyar Mezőgazdaság. First, Hungarian and generally, European producers would benefit from the permanent quality control of import honey to replace random testing. Producers are also hoping for more coordinated promotion of domestic honey in Hungary and cooperation between national alliances in concerted lobbying for the sake of European honey production in Brussels.

The case for nature-friendly agriculture

The Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME), the Hungarian National Hunting Chamber and the Hungarian Beekeepers Association joined together to issue a statement on Thursday for the nature-friendly transformation of agricultural subsidies. In this they lay down conditions for CAP subsidies which would halt the loss of diversity in nature due to agricultural activity. The aims of the suggestions include the prevention of the population collapse of multiple small game species, the improvement of the situation of pollinators including bees, and the aversion of ecologic disasters caused by the erosion of natural diversity.

According to the three alliances, while agricultural production in Hungary increased rapidly in the past fifteen years, the cost was the disruption in natural ecosystems in the country, the 30% reduction in natural diversity, and a staggering 75% drop in the populations of pollinators.

The green trend is on the rise

At an online conference by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) stakeholders from the sector and policymakers discussed the latest developments in Hungarian organic agriculture. According to recent figures presented at the conference, in 2019, organic production increased to 303 thousand hectares, twice the size it was five years ago. In 2015, 2300 farmers were involved in organic farming, and by 2019 this number increased to 5600. While discussing the future of the Common Agriculture Policy and the advent of the Green Deal, State Secretary Zsolt Feldman of the Ministry of Agriculture commented that in the intermediary period before the launch of the next CAP the Ministry of Agriculture will extend organic farming subsidies ending in 2020 by an additional year. Eric Gall of IFOAM Organics Europe highlighted that the sector needs concrete goals with deadlines and regular overview procedures. Read more about organic farming in Hungary here.