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Bills submitted to parliament recently that would amend laws on competitiveness in the agriculture sector and the sale of farmland would drastically devalue the assets of some 1.5 million landowners, a Socialist Party leader told a press conference over the weekend. The amendments would allow the National Agriculture Chamber, rather than the ministry, to decide on fundamental matters, Gábor Harangozó said. The government wants to give the right to determine who can purchase farmland, and under what conditions, to the chamber which is “controlled by Fidesz’s people” everywhere, he said. The amendments would also eliminate the right of judicial appeal against decisions taken by the chamber, he added.

According to the bill, local chambers would take decisions based on criteria that are so subjective they cannot even be inscribed in an itemised manner in the law, Harangozó said. If the bill is passed, the market price for farmland will no longer matter, he said. They want to make the land’s yield potential the sole basis for its value, regardless if the parcel is near Budapest or in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County, in underdeveloped eastern Hungary, he added. Harangozó said he had asked the bill’s authors to withdraw the proposed legislation. If they fail to do so and the bills are approved, the Socialists will initiate a probe as they violate the constitution on a number of points, he added.