Tonight, before going to bed, millions of Americans will turn their clocks back one hour to fall back from Daylight Saving Time (DST) to Standard Time.
Until recently, I believed Daylight Saving Time was created to benefit farmers. I also believed that DST began in October. I was wrong. It turns out I am not alone in my misconceptions.
I attempted an informal survey of local farmers and friends via text, Facebook, and Twitter. The survey included one question: “Yes or No – Do you believe daylight savings time is beneficial to farmers?”
In place of simple “Yes” or “No,” I received a myriad of responses about the value of farmers and the long hours they put in, commentary on challenges of farming while also working other jobs, and personal stories about impacts the time change made on farming experiences. (I was so very grateful for everyone’s responses but felt like I lit a fire in folks. That was not my intent. I just wanted to know how many believed the same thing I did.)
Most believe that Daylight Saving Time is intended to help farmers because they are the ones up before the sun and often working long into the night baling hay, caring for animals, and harvesting crops. My entire life I believed that I did not like Daylight Saving Time. The truth is that I do not like Standard Time and the practice of changing time.
The results of my informal (and completely non-political) survey reflected that most believed and felt the same.
Informal (completely non-political) survey results:
Yes – 11* No – 34
Other than Yes or No – Too many
*Those who voted “Yes” understood that DST starts in March. My genius hubby was one of these.
As it turns out, the practice of turning clocks forward one hour the last Sunday of March and back one hour the last Sunday of October, was not to benefit farmers but in efforts to conserve energy and support war efforts. During World War I the practice of Daylight Saving Time was loosely implemented with the Standard Time Act in 1918. (The Standard Time Act not only began the practice of DST changes, but also established time zones in the U.S.) During WWII from February 9, 1942, to September 30, 1945, “War Time” enacted year-round Daylight Saving Time. However, it was not until April 12, 1966 that the Uniform Time Act made the time change a lasting dictate establishing Daylight Saving Time rules for each time zone within the United States. With the Uniform Time Act, DST was set for roughly 7 months of the year. The remaining 5 months states were to abide by Standard Time. While states were allowed to opt out, only two did.
The states that do not abide by the Standard Time Act including Arizona (as of 1968) and Hawaii (as of 1967). In 2018 Florida passed a state law setting their clocks to Daylight Saving Time for good. In recent years, many states have worked towards maintaining DST and abolishing Standard Time. Most of the farmers I know wish the rest of the country would establish Daylight Saving Time as the official time of the United States and forget the business of switching twice a year.
While my focus is farmers, there is greater evidence that switching between Standard and Daylight Saving Time is a bad idea for everyone. First of all, evidence shows higher levels of anxiety and depression with each change of time setting. At each seasonal change, hospitals see an increase of heart attacks and strokes, as well evidence of worsened sleep deprivation. In addition, there are increases in automobile accidents as lengthening the hours of darkness or putting drivers on the road when the sun is directly a driver’s eyeline at high traffic times leads to greater incident of crashes.
When I started to write this post, I believed I would lobby against Daylight Saving Time on behalf of farmers. I thought DST was the problem. The most interesting part of this particular post’s journey is that I found my feelings were the exact opposite of my original intent and I was provided the opportunity to share these details with those who believed the same.
With a harvesting of opinions and facts about farmers and Daylight Saving Time, I am excited to share the cultivated truths about this troublesome time change situation.
- We don’t have Daylight Saving Time because of farmers.
- Farmers actually like Daylight Saving Time. They do not like Standard Time and changing between the two.
- If you offer a “Yes” of “No” (non-political survey) the week before a presidential election, you will get some folks fired up. (Even if you don’t mean to.)
I will always be pro-farmer. There is not enough information in the universe to change that opinion. I am grateful for the opportunity to change my mind about Daylight Saving Time, and hope that I did a respectful job of approaching the topic for others. As stated earlier, there are a number of states working to establish DST as the official time. If you are interested in joining this movement, I encourage you to contact your representatives and enlighten them about your belief and the need to make Daylight our standard time.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I also believed it was called “Daylight Savings Time” but it’s really just “Daylight Saving Time.”
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