Examination of Two Decades of Farm Concentration Processes in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County

Czimbalmos, Róbert – Kovács, Györgyi – Fehér, Alajos

Keywords: change in property structure, rural employment, multifunctionality, farm diversification JEL: Q12, Q15, R11

In the last decades general the trend in EU and Hungary agriculture is the decline in the number of farms and the continuous increase of land per farm. Since our accession to the EU, the farm concentration has been even more pronounced. The trend is well indicated by the relevant data of the General Agricultural Censuses (2010 and 2020). According to the General Agricultural Census (2010) three quarters of the Hungarian agricultural area was used by just over 2.5% of all production units. This national trend was confirmed by our series of questionnaire surveys conducted in the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county between 1997-2018. In our investigations at county and settlement level, we also experienced the national trends, a similar ratio and this has not changed by 2020 either. There was a reorganization in the large farm category. In the size categories of 300-500 and 500-1,000 hectares, the land area and the number of farms increased significantly, while the number of farmers and the cultivated area by them decreased in the two largest size categories. In fact, the farming society has adapted to the support policy: they tried to maximize the available support by dividing their territories and rewriting property rights. It should be noticed that within the framework of the government program "Land for Farmers" in 2015 and 2016, about 8,600 hectares of leased, state-owned land became the property of farmers. Even this program could not reduce the continuous increase of the size of farms. In 1997-2018 our questionnaire surveys helped to explore the extent and characteristics of land concentration in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county, we analysed its positive and negative impacts too. Our formulated hypotheses have proved, in summary it can be concluded that as a result of a continuous capital and farm concentration process, medium-sized and large farms have continuously strengthened, with the predominance of crop production, mechanization and productivity significantly increased, while employment decreased. Unfortunately, the farm diversification processes remained below the level we expected. Restoring and improving the balance among sectors, diversification and increasing the proportion of organic farming supported by the EU can make a breakthrough from an established situation in these three decades. At the same time, the question is whether the subsidies (independent of size categories, aimed at efficient management) to be introduced in the next support cycle will achieve the set goal, or will they further stimulate the farm concentration.