István Nagy, Minister of Agriculture, gave an interview to Hungarian news site Index, where he discussed inflation, the drastic rise in food prices, and the EU’s agricultural policy, among other things. The Minister said that the food price cap is a social measure to protect consumers.
István Nagy explained the extremely high food prices by saying that although Hungary used to be able to produce raw materials at low prices and by cheap energy, this has now changed. He said that Hungary indeed has very high food inflation by European standards, but added that it used to have one of the lowest food prices in the EU.
He also said that if inflation moderates and consumer prices start to return to normal, the food price cap could be lifted. He pointed out that in the current economic situation, food prices for the neediest sections of society would rise by 30%, which cannot be allowed to happen.
This is why the government has extended the price freeze on food until April 30.
Nagy emphasized that shops must ensure the availability of products with a fixed price so that there are no major shortages. In this context, he asked the public not to stock up on these products, but rather to buy them consciously.
Minister of Agriculture, István Nagy.
The interview also mentioned that last November, the European Commission accepted Hungary’s Common Agricultural Policy Strategy Plan. The total funding available for the period up to 2027 is €14.7 billion, of which the Hungarian government will provide almost half. Nagy said that farmers will receive more than HUF 2,100 billion (EUR 5.3 billion) of EU funds as income support, while half of the rural development funds (nearly HUF 1,500 billion (EUR 3.8 billion)), will be used for economic development, agricultural, and food investments over the next five years.
Among other things, the government aims to increase the value of agricultural exports by 57 percent to €15 billion by 2030, and food investments to €1.8 billion. It also plans to spend €1.4 billion on climate change targets.
The Minister also said that Hungary is doing well in the production of raw materials, but that last summer’s drought caused serious problems. While the country is usually able to export 3.5-4 million tons of maize, it now had to buy 3 million tons from abroad because not enough was produced domestically.
And after a dry, hot summer, the mild winter is now causing problems. At the beginning of the year, the heat record was broken, and snowfall has become a rarity, replaced by rain. Nagy pointed out that the warm weather does not kill pathogens, so we can expect a high increase in pests. In addition, trees have started to bud in the current warm weather, but spring frosts could arrive in February-March, causing huge damage to fruit orchards, for example.
Featured photo via Facebook/István Nagy (István Fekete), Pixels