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Daylight saving time ‘not for farmers’

MARSHALL — It’s time to turn clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, the annual end of daylight saving time. That means earlier sunrises but darkness in late afternoon and early evening.

The tradition of moving clocks one hour forward on the second Sunday in March and back on the first Sunday in November dates to Benjamin Franklin and is used in 40 percent of the countries worldwide. Farmers are often blamed for the disruption in people’s lives.

It wasn’t the farmers.

In fact, farmers fought the time changes. They even took their opposition all the way to the Supreme Court in the 1920s.

“The whole proposition that we lose or gain an hour is, at best, philosophical, what are we talking about? And yet we go on talking about it every year,” author Michael Downing said in a March interview with The Palm Beach Post. “We have eight months of it now, so, in reality, it has become our standard time.”

Dairy farmers across Minnesota can tell you that their cows cannot tell time. They need to be milked every 12 hours. Daylight saving time means that the farmer who once woke at sunrise to milk now has to get up in the dark and use electricity to light the way.

“Daylight saving time is not for farmers,” Fred Rabaey of Taunton said. “As far as I’m concerned, it could stay the same year-round because farmers don’t work by the clock. It’s more of a nuisance than any benefit that I can perceive.”

Farmers do not like daylight saving time because they need the sun to dry the dew from their crops before they can harvest them and take them to the elevator. With the sun rising an hour later, farmers argue, they have to wait too long to combine their crops.

“Every time it happens, I’m a little disappointed,” Bernie DeCock of Ghent said. “I’m used to the summer schedule, then it changes in the middle of harvest. It throws me off a little. I guess it’s not all bad because it gives us more hours of sunlight in the morning.”

At least temporarily. Eventually, workers will be driving to and from work in the dark with the naturally shrinking daylight during the winter months.

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