Hungary, following its integration into the European Union, has implemented - besides some other achievements - the directives concerning the agricultural subsidies, as the most widespread instrument of state intervention into the economy of rural areas. In the adapted subsidy system there are two priorities basically with targets on income policy and development. The research on the data of FADN database examines the operation of the subsidy system introduced in 2004, as well as the priorities, contradictions and tensions within the system. As regards the dimensions of the survey, it covers farm size groups and directions of production. Another objective of the paper is to assign an economically adequate and socially acceptable way for the development of sustainable agriculture and rural areas on the basis of the new challenges, which are likely to get shape in the near future.