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Agricultural cooperatives in Hungary : past or future ? [en]
11 December 2003


As a result of the change of the political and economic system that started 1989-1990 the agricultural cooperative sector underwent fundamental transformation. These changes were very extensive and controversial. Transformed cooperatives still have a very significant role in the utilisation of inputs, in the performance of agriculture and in employment of the rural population. As an economic basis and main employer they are present in every second village, and also give second job many of retired and those employed in other sectors. Besides quantitative ratios we cannot neglect indirect effects of cooperative farming, which can be detected in the social support and physiognomy of rural settlements. We must not forget either that large number of the agricultural companies belong to the scope of activities of cooperatives or separated from them.

As a result of the developing market economy, the strengthening competition and the rather controversial ownership and interest connections the character of cooperative farming has changed. Business management of agricultural cooperatives is more and more characterised by the endeavours to survive, to preserve operability and workplace and to balance interest in order to keep the assets in one hand and to diversify the activity.

The economic difficulties and uncertainty forced cooperatives to adopt a passive and defensive behaviour.The years after the change of the political and economical system were not favorable for the modernization of the production and organisational structure. Shares of cooperatives are divided among three groups: active members, retired members and outsiders.

Alternative proposals

It is of special importance to acknowledge every operable type of organizational and share of work and to support them without any discrimination. It is a fundamental interest of every actor of the economy to form a consolidate, sector neutral agricultural policy. Which makes the future of farming and farmers calculable.

The cooperation of national and county level organization must be improved in order to orientate the decision makers in forming better regulation and elaborating better policy for helping the adaptation for EU accession.


The traditional cooperatives can live in coexistence with the new types, the holding-like cooperatives can be based on economic associations and companies. Factors that hinder clear understanding of the economy and therefore well-founded decision making ( e.g. unclear ownership, usage and leasing conditions, lack of data for exact measurement, lack of information on unemployment or the utilisation of supports etc.) should be eliminated as soon as possible. As a result of the changes cooperatives are more and more adapted to the local environment. Cooperative as economic organizations have undergone significant qualitative changes in the last decade and have more and more adjusted to the market economy.

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