"I was not about to do this as a city girl who has never seen a sheep"

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Politics and the agricultural sector are not the most feminine areas, but Rebeka Szabó, a Member of the Hungarian Parliament (from the LMP party) and also the Agriculture Committee (as well as being the Chairperson of the Renewable Energy Sub-Committee), is familiar with both areas. During the summer – proving her abilites and commitment – she participated in the Rural Adventure Programme of AGRYA, where she had the opportunity to gain first-hand experiences about the farm of Gergely Madarász.

The party “Politics Can Be Different” (Lehet Más a Politika, LMP) has a quota which regulates the minimal proportion of female members, but in the agriculture committee, Rebeka Szabó has to distinguish herself as the only woman. Initially, perhaps because of the stereotypes against women, her professional competence was questioned. "I have been and I am still preparing a lot for the meetings even today; my strategy is that I am not trying to adopt the 'macho' pace during the debates, nor I'm the kind of a woman who is always smiling. I have chosen a third way, one which is my own personal voice: professional, determined but non-violent"- said Rebeka Szabó, who thinks this way is the hardest, but it works well, so by now she feels that what she says is respected. "I do not have the impression that being a women is a disadvantage in the farmer society. I go well prepared to the meetings and the important thing is that I don't act like this in order to tell what and how to do but to ask and learn, to listen to farmers and understand them therefore becoming able to help them solve their problems with my work in the Parliament" – emphasized the politician.

Rebeka Szabó spent her rural adventure on Gergely Madarász's farm near Újszentmargita. The 28 years-old farmer mainly deals with husbandry on rented grasslands of the Hortobágy National Park where he grazes horses, the unique Hungarian breeds of grey cattle and 'racka' sheep , but 'mangalica' swine are also raised at the farm  and there are some goats too. “I started my rural adventure in a Tuesday morning which was quite a sudden change, from Monday night, when I was at the last plenary session of the Parliament in an air-conditioned room, mostly among suited MPs whose noise can compete perhaps only with the bleating of the sheeps.” Thanks to the program, Rebeka, could return to the grass of the ”Great Hungarian Plain” for a few days again, where she spent a lot of time in the past as a research biologist. During the four days she spent on the farm, she tried to get familiar with every phase of the job: she drove a tractor, fed grey cattle and “mangalica” swine, and actively participated in harvesting the lucerne hay as well as loading it onto horse-drawn wagons. The young MP also dared to  venture among young bulls. , She went into the corral in order to untie a string that was left on the feed bale. Meanwhile, the bulls just looked at her stupidly, and then – seeing the determined action – just stood aside.

For the MP, the most important experiences during the adventure were the meetings with farmers.  The discussions with them served a great deal of valuable information for the parliamentary work, which confirmed for the politician, which are the most important areas where farmers need quick and effective help. "One of the main tasks is to establish proper ways from the primary producers to the solvent consumers, the solution of agricultural subsidies' late or disputed payment  that often generates  liquidity problems for a lot of farmers because of the slow and sometimes incorrect administration. The third problem to solve is the issue of land lease and land ownership, preferably letting those to own the fields who are actually cultivating them" – Rebeka Szabó said. The programme also strengthened the politician's previous positive experience about young farmers. “Because of my work, I often go to the countryside, and the positive image that previously developed in me about young farmers was confirmed during the programme. In addition to that they are well-trained, they are also highly innovative, creative, professional and – in spite of the difficulties and their professionality – they are characterised with a cheery attitude. Fortunately, they do not have the – formerly typical –  “it's not worth to do anything, it doesn't make any sense” and “if my cow's dead, the neighbour's cow should also be dead” mentality, which holds back every good intention, and that is why I like to work with them!”

Kornél Myat