Strategic Tasks – Interview with János Nagy

nagyjaThe recently launched National Center for Land Management, which in addition to eliminating undivided joint ownership of land, from the National Land Management Organization, also deals with forestry and irrigation, said János Nagy, president of the new state organization.

- To what extent have hopes for land use come true? How do you see the NFA in action afterwards, let’s say farmers made 200,000 hectares of land in 2015-16 for farmers! program, also called land privatization?

- Earth for farmers! program is said by the bad languages ​​to be land privatization. With the change of regime, we moved from a completely different socio-economic system to the market economy. What characterizes competition is the dominant and determinative element of private ownership, management of private property, and general concern for it – as opposed to its formerly state-owned operation. As a result of this transformation, ownership patterns and opportunities for farming have changed, and new legislation has been introduced that has allowed private ownership to come to the fore and the state to develop the nation’s and nation’s economy from the types of taxes created by the business sector. In the agricultural sector, through compensation, land has been privatized to a certain extent, creating the opportunity to purchase and farm land. The Hungarian entrepreneurial class, however, is capital-poor compared to the western one. With the accession to the European Union, the capital inflow started, and compared to that, the Hungarian business community has always felt a bit disadvantageous. Earth for farmers! program has actually been a great success, not just at the level of communication.

- What do you think?

- It has indeed created an opportunity for the farmer who wants to make a living from Hungarian agriculture, who wants to make a living from it. Hungarian agriculture was in dire need of a boost, as it is developing with incredible momentum, for example, precision farming already requires quite a different kind of capital and knowledge than was previously the case in the sector. So agriculture has been given an opportunity, with financial aid that can be mined. The state has also shown that it expects farmers and provides opportunities for prosperity. There are many benefits of this political-economic dimension, from the increase in production potential to the creation of jobs to the increase in livestock numbers, which are back in the statistics. Ownership has given us a vision of the security to see the future in multigenerational agriculture. This opportunity and vision is also related to the retaining power of the countryside. Not to mention that those systems that take advantage of wealth in their own right can handle it much more effectively.

- The NFK will continue to perform the functions of the NFA in the representation of the Hungarian State in relation to the previous exercise of the ownership rights, but as a newly established budgetary body it will also have another task. What do you know about these?

- Land-related matters have become easier to handle, evidently assessed by the ministry and the government, and given new responsibilities. In addition to continuing to exploit it, we have not only sold but also increased the state’s land assets by hundreds of hectares each year. We pay attention to the flow of land and buy land every day, especially protected nature, forests, but there are also other purchases. At the same time as NFK was launched, there were three important areas in which we also want to achieve significant results. One is the area for irrigation development, the other is for certain administrative tasks related to forestry, and the third is land consolidation, which is mainly aimed at eliminating undivided common land. The latter task was taken over from the National Cadastre Program Nonprofit Ltd., which ceased to exist on June 30, 2019. The new activity pool will combine tasks assigned to the portfolio in the cycle.

- The NFK will carry out support, service, planning and coordination, legal and administrative tasks related to irrigation, as the “irrigation agency” planned to be set up under previous government decisions. What to expect in this regard?

- The Ministry of Agriculture would like to influence farmers’ willingness to irrigate by creating a regulatory and support environment for irrigation development and operation, as well as a cooperative and long-term planning approach. Thus, the task of irrigation development is to develop and launch a water supply system for the safety of agricultural production, including the use of water treatment for agricultural purposes. By the way, this is a long process.

- Just like afforestation …

- Our job is to get the afforestation program started so that the plans come true year after year. The country has to be afforested, many trees have to be planted, and its interest system has to be worked out in such a way that private property is also of interest. In order to ensure that afforestation takes place not only on public land, but also in areas which are less favorable for agricultural production, it is ecologically justified to use it. To this end, NFK’s activities include assessing the ecological status and economic resources of forests and monitoring their changes. This includes continuous monitoring of forest health, the effects of climate change and endangered emergency pests, and the operation of forest information systems to regulate forest management.

- And the old big problem, the undivided common property?

- This also needs to be resolved, and further fragmentation needs to be stopped, as the land holdings are unmanageable not only in terms of use but also in terms of financing, due to undivided common ownership. We will implement the law, the government’s program, and great results can be expected already in this cycle and, in the longer term, the stability that is essential for farming can be achieved. In the future, NFK, as a body coordinating land consolidation procedures, will be involved in the preparation of other comprehensive land consolidation procedures at the national level in addition to the tasks related to the elimination of undivided common property. I think it is also the duty of the state to re-utilize the landscaped, well-utilized land. Give it to a lender or sell it to anyone who wants to farm it and help make Hungarian agriculture a leading sector in the European sense. And remember, the state also benefits from this.

- Do you have the money, the horse, the gun? NFK’s budget for next year is HUF 2.2 billion, and this year the NFA has managed the same budget, although the NFK is not only expanding its scope of activities but also expanding its staff.

- I’m not worried about the budget, the resources needed to carry out the tasks will be provided.

Written by László Levente Tóth