Hungary to ban foreigners buying farmland

 

Hungary has proposed a ban on foreigners buying farmland.

The draft bill, which is currently before Parliament, will "protect and extend state-owned farmland and bar presumable foreign land use and forbidden acquisition of land", a statement read.

Overseas agricultural investment in the country has actually been banned since 1994, The New York Times reports, but foreigners have continued to invest in Hungary's land through legal loopholes, such as investing in land-owning companies.

As a result, farmland prices have risen by 7.7 per cent since 2010, now reaching $2,600 per hectare, according to the OTP Bank. Nonetheless, the land provides an affordable opportunity for those looking to invest.

 "Compared to neighboring countries like Austria or Slovenia, land prices in our country are still lower," Istvan Szabo, of OTP's agrarian branch, told The New York Times .

Most buyers of the land are active farmers, according to Szabo, but locals are annoyed at the legal system, which has allowed overseas buyers to enter the market, preventing many from acquiring land.

"Hungary's traditions, ancestral instincts, genetic heritage, bind us to agriculture," Prime Minister Viktor Orban told young farmers at a conference. "This is what we have skills for. We need to succeed in what we can master."

He added: "We will put an end to the possibility for foreigners to acquire farmland. With this land law, it is over, it is no more."

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