(crossposted from www.buffaloridgeblog.com )
Rode into the cities friday, 'twas a great day for the harvest with pretty much clear skies and moderate temps. Saw lots of combines, tractors, gravity wagons, and grain trucks parked next to the fields, ready to harvest and haul the corn and beans to the elevators. Rode home saturday, and suddenly all that harvest equipment was moving at lightning pace from dawn to dusk and into the night. Why does the harvest happen on weekends nowdays?
Let's go back a couple decades and look at a typical section in rural Minnesota. Since homesteading the plat maps out here have been a checkerboard of 160 acre farms, four to a 640 acre section. Those 4 farm families typically added up to 20 or so people a section, each family running a diverse farming operation with livestock, corn, beans, wheat, oats, and veggies on their 160 acres. They were full time farmers, building their own barns and fixing their own machinery whose service life was measured in decades.
That's just a memory of farming that the old timers honor in conversation at the coffee shops and antique tractor shows. These days on that section, maybe one farmer or couple is still farming the whole 640 acres. They've got a million dollars tied up in tractors, combines, planters, trucks, sheds, bins, etc.. It gets worse... our farmer's average age is around 60, and they often can't buy health insurance at any price. So they get jobs in town to get health insurance, and farm on the weekends. When you're holding down a full time job AND farming 600 acres, you skip a lot of time consuming stuff like vegies, fruit trees, fixing your own machinery, etc.. The goal around here is to spend less than an hour an acre farming, so you plant and harvest on the evenings and weekends. Thus the elevators around here are open damn near 24/7 during harvest season, and on this sunday morning's ride down to Luverne I saw several farmers lined up to unload at the elevators.
So what happened to the 20 odd souls that used to inhabit our sample section, especially the young folks? Well, 10% of them, or 2, are GLBT... And they moved off to the big city. They love the farm- They even found life partners that grew up on farms too, and their garden has all but taken over their tiny city lots. So how do we get our 2 GLBT folks and their 2 partners to move back to the farm and triple the population of the section and bring back sustainable farming? It all boils down to 2 words: "health insurance"!
Unless gay committed relationships are given the same health insurance "dependent" coverage as same sex couples enjoy in marriage, our gay farmers both have to have "town jobs" to get insurance, and that keeps them from farming. And as long as they have to keep "town jobs", might as well move from the small town to the big city where the pay is better. But give them marriage equality, and our 2 gay couples move back to the section, then they each adopt a couple kids who love farming, and before you know it our little section has gone from but 2 aging part time farmers to 4 middle aged farmers with 4 more aspiring future farmers who will keep the family farms going for another generation or three, while increasing the population fivefold!
Makes you wonder how any sane legislative candidate could support the anti-marriage amendment...