by Judit Kovács Katona
In Hungary, similarly to developed countries, the share of agriculture in the GDP has declined. Even so, preparation of the sector’s long term strategy is crucial, as the role of agriculture exceeds the results represented in the GDP. Environmental and social functions of agriculture are revaluated in developed countries, and consumers at the end of the food chain actually govern the entire process. This is why information plays an increasingly important role, and gives signals (Verbeke, 2005) to the actors in the economy and society. This research area is diverse (including agricultural policy, environmental policy, rural development and sustainable development), and so I applied an interdisciplinary approach and conducted an integrated examination. The results show that in recent decades, the pressure of agriculture on the environment has been lower in Hungary than in the EU-15 and agri-environmental measures have taken hold in all types of land-use systems, even though they are more important in protected areas. Although this development provides a good basis for a long term strategy social capital has lost strength (Csath, 2002), so fostering the creation of internal and external rural networks – one instrument for this could be the Leader programme – is essential for sustainable rural development.