(MTI) – The farm ministry has hurt the reputation of an organic farm in Kishantos in central Hungary and the ministry must stop this activity, a Budapest court said in a non-final ruling on Monday.
The municipal court ruled that the ministry has done this by incorrectly stating on April 25 that the Kishantos Rural Development Centre had repeatedly fallen behind with lease payments. Additionally, after outstanding payments developed as a result of a legal dispute on the lease contract, the ministry interpreted this as if the centre had failed to pay lease despite getting state support. The court said it also hurt the centre’s reputation that farm ministry state secretary Marton Bitay said in an interview with business portal Vilaggazdasag online in January that the centre failed to carry out contracted developments, therefore causing damage to the state. The court said the ministry had also incorrectly stated that the state had won a lawsuit against the centre in connection with this damage.
The new leaseholders started to plough up the fields at Kishantos on April 12. The old farmers, members of the Kishantos Rural Development Centre, however, said that the newcomers were not “legally in possession” of the area, as there are several legal disputes still underway.
Opposition politicians and activists have protested against the breakup of the organic farm in Kishantos ever since the leaseholders of the Kishantos Centre refused to hand over the area to the state land manager by the deadline at the end of October 2013 and filed a complaint with the rural development minister over the termination of their lease.
The Kishantos Rural Development Centre was set up under an agreement between the Hungarian and German governments 15 years ago. It operated on 452 hectares of state-owned land and produced the highest-grade organic seeds, as well as offering courses to farmers and carrying out agricultural research.