Minister for Agriculture: The interests of Hungarian farmers must be protected at all costs

Hungary will protect the interests of Hungarian farmers by any means and at all costs, even if the European Union does not extend the EU ban on Ukrainian grain imports, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy said in Brussels.

Following a meeting of agriculture ministers, Nagy said there is no technical justification for lifting the EU ban on grain imports, adding that it is unacceptable that Hungarian storage facilities are refilled with Ukrainian stocks. Earlier, the minister pointed out that “the ban only makes sense from an agricultural and economic point of view if we can maintain it until the new harvest and storage of the new crop.”

He recalled that the Black Sea ports were closed and that the extension of the grain agreement had failed, i.e., the Russian side would not agree to deliver grain by sea. If the 40 million tons of Ukrainian grain reach the EU’s internal market, traditional European agriculture will collapse, he warned.

“We therefore propose that the EU extend the moratorium until at least the end of the year,” the minister said, adding that Hungary has also proposed that the EU should subsidize Ukrainian grain shipments with transit fees so that the grain does not hamper the EU’s internal markets and instead reaches those in danger of grain shortages.

Nagy said previously that Hungary wants to introduce a progressive transit fee subsidy that will allow Ukrainian products to be transported further, not only to Europe’s internal markets but also to its ports, from where they could be transported to third countries in need. Starvation could trigger a wave of migration that would once again weigh on the European Union’s economy and create further difficulties, he said. “If we really want to serve humanitarian purposes, we have to be able to help Ukrainian farmers, the Ukrainian state, and all the member states of the European Union at the same time, freeing them from market disruptions,” he said.

Hungary insists that grain shipments from Ukraine should be sealed at the border and checked to ensure that they leave Hungary, he underlined. “These products found a market before the war and did not burden the European market. Ukrainian agricultural products should be redirected to the markets of countries where they are traditionally present, where they are necessary, and where they play a very important social role, as they prevent food crises and thus migration crises,” he pointed out.

Earlier, the agriculture ministers of five EU member states, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, signed an agreement, signalling their continued cooperation on the issue. In it, they say they consider the EU’s September 15 deadline for lifting the ban unacceptable. At the EU level, the five countries want to develop a “common European solidarity” that would “help products from Ukraine reach third countries where they are very much needed,” the minister said, highlighting the importance of eliminating the disruptions that had arisen in the solidarity corridors.