The accessions of Hungary and Romania to the European Union (EU) in 2004 and 2007 respectively had a significant impact on the agro-food sectors of both countries. On accession they became parts of a large, organised but highly competitive market which offered great opportunities for the stakeholders but also brought along serious challenges. Newly accessing Member States not only had to cope with competition within the EU but also in their domestic markets, resulting in significant economic, social and environmental changes.
In both Romania and Hungary, agriculture plays an important role in the national economy in terms of its share in total value added (5-7 per cent) and in total employment. Agriculture in Romania contributed 6.4 per cent to the GDP in 2013, which is almost four times higher than the EU-28 average. Its high share indicates the sector’s importance in the country’s economy. The distribution of agricultural holdings has a strong dual character. Almost 80 per cent of the utilised agricultural area (UAA) is divided almost equally between two categories: a very large group (80 per cent of total holdings), consisting of small-sized holdings, under 5 ha and a very small group of holdings with over 50 ha (13,830) that operate 40 per cent of UAA. The small farms are mainly individual holdings: these operate about 65 per cent of the UAA of small farms. The individual holdings have 2.5 ha on the average, divided into 3.7 parcels. The share of agriculture in employment has remained unchanged at around 30 per cent in the recent years. The value of agricultural investments was EUR 1,309.7 million in 2013, representing 3.9 per cent of national investments. In the examined period, after a decline in 2008 and 2009, the value and share of agricultural investments peaked in 2011.
Agriculture in Hungary contributed 4.8 per cent to the GDP in 2013 which, although lower than in Romania, is more than twice the EU-28 average. The unprecedented high volatility of agricultural prices and weather extremes have interrupted the declining trend and started an increasing trend since 2011. For instance, in 2009 arable production was affected by the most severe drought in decades while in 2011 high commodity prices coincided with favourable weather conditions and the downturn of other sectors of the economy led to recession in 2012. For many years the share of agriculture in employment had been continuously decreasing but this trend was reversed in 2011 by the economic crisis which severely affected the other sectors of the Hungarian economy, as well as by the simplification of the seasonal work permit authorisation process. In 2012 agricultural employment increased by nearly fifteen thousand people due to the modification in the public work system: public workers have been accounted for as regular employees. Investments in Hungarian agriculture peaked in&