A bunch of Bible-toting Manitobans is [planning an attack]
http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/nation/14909435.htm on the world record for harvesting a quarter-section field of wheat.1
On one level this is pretty neat. The event is designed to raise money, which will support something called Children’s Camp International, “a Winkler-based organization that underwrites children's church camps in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Belize and Mexico”.
And combines at work are exciting.
Imagine a hundred of them - the sound and the dust - it’ll be wild. When you see a half-mile of combines coming at you, one every 30 feet, that is huge to anyone who’s in agriculture.
The man behind the stunt, Ray Wieler (or possibly Wieland; the report has both) says it costs just $10 to provide room, board and activities for a child attending a weeklong camp in India.
“And that's Canadian dollars!" Ray laughs. "It’s amazing what you can do with a little money in India. It's really a great return.”
The event will raise money for these Bible camps by selling the harvested wheat and by allowing sponsors to buy space on one of the hundred or more monster combines that plan to go into the field on August 5th.
But at another level, I find this more than somewhat bizarre. Has it not occurred to any of the organizers that there’s an outside chance that some of the poverty in the countries where they are promoting bible camps for religion might just possibly be related to agricultural subsidies? OK, so Canadian farmers do not in fact get much of a subsidy (according to Wikipedia) but American and European producers do, and there’s no doubt that subsidized wheat is a source of poverty and ill health in developing countries.
I’m not that concerned about exporting Christianity. But I do think that the good people of Winkler, Man, have missed a trick in not using their record-breaking attempt to push for a break in subsidies too.
A quarter section, by the way, turns out to be 160 acres, or 64.75 hectares in new money. The readers of the Grand Forks Herald don’t need to be told that kind of stuff; they're probably born knowing it. But fortunately the campaign's website recognizes a bigger world out there and gives us dopes the straight dope.