Corruption and anthrax: The sorry end of a “city farm”

On July 4 news spread rapidly that several people had become infected by anthrax, which is called lépfene in Hungarian. “Fene” here most likely means something like “trouble” while “lép” means “spleen.” Apparently the spleens of infected people become enlarged.

Anthrax spores are formed by anthrax bacteria that occur naturally in the soil. These spores remain dormant for years until they find their way into a host: sheep, cattle, horses, and goats. Anthrax is rare in Canada and the United States but common in the developing world. Hungary had several outbreaks of anthrax over the last few years.

One can be affected by the anthrax bacteria by eating undercooked meat from an infected animal, by inhalation when one breathes in anthrax spores, or through the skin. Infection by inhalation is the most deadly way to contract the disease. That’s why we see pictures of health workers covered from head to toe while working at the scene where the infected animals were grazing or were slaughtered.

It seems that the owner of the cattle farm noticed as early as June 21 that something was wrong with some of his animals, and at least one had to be slaughtered due to severe illness. On July 1 there was another sick animal who had to be killed. No veterinarian saw them and no health official inspected the meat of the slaughtered animals.

Once the anthrax outbreak became public knowledge newspapermen invaded Tiszafüred where the first anthrax outbreak occurred. Tiszafüred is a favorite spot for vacationers who want to take advantage of Tisza tó, a large artificial lake second in size only to Lake Balaton. Very few people were ready to talk, but reporters eventually learned that the owner of City Farm in Kócsújfalu is new at animal husbandry. He purchased about 100 cows, a Hungarian variety called “magyar tarka,” only a few months ago. Where the cattle came from is not clear. Zoltán Gőgös, former MSZP undersecretary in the ministry of agriculture, seems to know that the Hungarian owner purchased the animals in Romania. He also claims to know that the owner, instead of  immediately placing the sick animals in the compulsory three-month quarantine, immediately began slaughtering them.

This is what the "magyar tarka" looks like. Excellent for meat and for milk production

This is what the “magyar tarka” looks like. Excellent for meat and milk production

The first five or six people who became ill were butchers who handled the meat. Later it turned out that the meat was sold to a company that supplies food to the municipality of Tiszafüred, which provides lunches for 88 needy children in town. Since then the town of Tiszafüred broke its contract with the company. Another purchaser was a restaurant called “Nemzeti Étterem,” whose owner, I assume, must be a great Fidesz supporter judging from the name of his restaurant.

News spread that the authorities actually kept the anthrax infection a secret for three or four days, something the Ministry of Agriculture hotly denied in a communiqué that appeared on the ministry’s website on July 4. In it Róbert Zsigó, former Fidesz spokesman and mayor of Baja, claims that as soon as the anthrax infection became known the authorities took all necessary steps. Since symptoms of anthrax infection appear about a week after the time of contact with the sick animal and it was on July 2 that anthrax was diagnosed in five patients, it is likely that the infection was spread by the animal that was slaughtered on the 21st of June.

The locals were not too communicative when journalists wanted to know more about the owner of City Farm. They did say, however, that the owner is a well-off man who lives in a big and expensive house. LMP politicians soon discovered that the owner of the herd of cattle is József Nagy, who just recently received 250 hectares from the Hungarian government to raise cattle. His case is similar to hundreds of others where people with good connections to party and government leaders received tracts of land without knowing the first thing about animal husbandry or agriculture.

Soon enough it became known who the “godfather” of József Nagy is: Sándor Fazekas, the minister of agriculture, himself. LMP was not alone in its detective work; Jobbik also looked into Nagy’s government connections. They discovered that Nagy’s other business venture also received government subsidies. Since then it became known that Nagy is on very friendly terms with Mihály Varga, minister of national economy.

Everywhere you look you find corruption. In most cases only the locals know all the details of suspicious land transactions. Only in glaring cases like this one does the news of corruption surface and spread nationwide.

Indeed, corruption is everywhere and on all levels. After following the trail of the infected meat, it turned out that it was not only József Nagy who was guilty of negligence but also the owner of the company that provided meat to the town of Tiszafüred. One corrupt businessman, Nagy, phoned the other corrupt one, Tamás Ábrahám, on June 23 and inquired whether he was interested in some beef at a bargain price. He was and purchased 100 kg of it on the very same day. Ábrahám apparently didn’t ask for the meat inspector’s certification but relied on Nagy’s verbal assurance that all was in order. Ábrahám and Nagy know each other through soccer. Ábrahám established a local soccer club and Nagy was one of its sponsors.

According to the latest intelligence József Nagy’s herd of cattle is shrinking in size. Lately apparently several animals had to be slaughtered, including the bull that was to assure the future of the cattle farm. He ended up in the carcass pit. His ear tag, which should have had the information that would have identified him, was missing. I wonder why.


  1. Does anyone know the legal situation for this in Hungary? Is knowingly selling meat with anthrax potentially a manslaughter charge?

  2. London Calling!

    The cows were illegally slaughtered – and the sick cows not properly reported as is vital in a EC membership country.

    Nor were the provenance and movement records properly kept.

    And nor was a reportable occurrence reported quickly.

    We in England learnt how vital this is during the BSE crisis here.

    Even now farmers have to keep a proper portfolio for each cow and it can be (and is) inspected on spot checks.

    But these of course are Fidesz, wet behind the ears, amateur farmers harvesting the EU funds.

    With a common link with football!

    Hungarian food security? Huh!

    Sell it to a company catering for needy children!

    In Africa the Ebola relatives are spiriting away their quarantined relatives – and spreading the deadly disease. Which is now in three countries.

    So it’s in Tiszafüred ……….then Heves County……….. then……? in banana-republic Hungary.


    Still if Tiszafüred is lucky with their Thuggesz contacts they may get a football stadium.

    Zolt Borkai, the mayor of Győr, said Hungary can host the World Cup in 2028 – providing Hungary can build the stadiums! (He’s also Hungary’s world cup rep.)

    So more stadiums (besides the 47 already earmarked which will be too small!).


    Pass the bananas please!



  3. I’ve finally twigged.

    …it’s an example of “true Hungarian thinking”!!

  4. So these “great farmer” received his land based on what agricultural experience exactly? Just when the “independent” Court of Constitution sided with the government regarding nationalization and the redistribution of tobacco shops by statin that it was all well as everyone was able to submit a bid, here comes an other Fidesz redistribution fiasco. Of course the court will find everything Ok wit this too, as everyone was able to bid for the land, even the farmer who originally worked on it for years. THat is an other story that they nobody had a chance but Fidesz buddies. Who can forget the recent revelation by Fidesz that they did not even invite anyone but Fidesz friends to the table of some contract biddings?
    Now that a shepherd from Felcsut decided to run for mayor against Orban’s daughter’s father in law, in the town of 1807 people with a 3500 seat soccer stadium, the shepherds farm was destroyed by unknown perpetrators. The current mayor of the town is also one of the country’s richest man, as it was discussed by Eva before. THis is the man who’s likely cut down and stole (not in person of course) some wood from its neighbour.
    That is Fidesz in a nutshell. Property, life, savings worth nothing when it comes the brand new world of Orban’s Hungary.

  5. József Nagy probably learned animal husbandry and farming in his prior business, selling household appliances and visiting the Budapest Zoo, once in a while. This was enough for approving his application for free land and lots of subsidies to run the farm, by his Fidesz friends.

  6. Here is the whole splendid chain of corruption from government favoritism to feeding children poisonous food.
    Greetings from China.

  7. József Nagy seems to have the perfect credentials to be appointed the regime’s Agricultural Minister- that is he is unbelievably stupid, corrupt, uncaring scumbag.
    But he is loyal.

  8. The best advertisement for vegetarianism in Hungary, this lot! I wouldn’t touch meat in this country, rather starve than eat meat with these sort of risks!

  9. @gybognarjr July 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm
    Very true!

    July 9, 2014 at 6:47 am
    “The best advertisement for vegetarianism in Hungary, this lot! I wouldn’t touch meat in this country, rather starve than eat meat with these sort of risks!

    Are you sure of that? Although Orban’s government destroyed all Monsanto GMA corn exactly a year ago, I am wondering if that was only for good publicity AND what Monsanto competing businesses the Orban circle could be affiliated with….

  10. @tappanch, why is it a scandal that this person worked in gay bars? I should think that was a plus point in the current climate.

  11. AHK Ungarn (German Chambers of Industry & Commerce) Investment Climate Survey 2014, former Communist countries.

    How do you rank the following countries for investors?

    Most attractive: Poland

    1. Poland
    2. Czechia
    3. Estonia
    4. Slovakia
    5. Slovenia
    6. Latvia
    7. Lithuania
    8. Croatia
    9. Hungary
    10. Romania
    11. Serbia

    p. 13

    Click to access AHK_Investment_Climate_Survey_-_CEE_2014.pdf

  12. tappanch
    July 9, 2014 at 8:02 am
    MaZsiHisz scandal:
    The new acting director of the Budapest Neolog Jewish community worked for the Catholic Church and acted in gay bars as well. He was elected a week ago.

    MaZsiHisz have bigger problems on its hand than Schwezoff. MaZsihisz should work on to unite the Hungarin Jewish community versus falling into the trap of internal and external combats for power. Who cares if he worked in gay bars, at least he can identify with and understand if various issues of the Hungarian gay community. According to the bible there are many things you not supposed to do. I bet all MaZsiHisz members are free of eternal sins. Not.
    By the way here is Schwezoff’s website. What turns me off if him is not that he “experimented” in his young age, but that he finds it so important to find some kind of divine forgiveness. He should just state how things were, and he is moving on to something more fulfilling. That is that.

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