Perspectives from Michigan farmers on climate change

Doll, J.E. and C.N. Layman

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2011-04-15 to 2011-04-15 )

Field crop agriculture plays a key role in climate change. Growing and harvesting field crops both contributes to and can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, farmers stand to be greatly affected as a changing climate impacts plant growth, yields, and pest outbreaks. For agriculture to both adapt to and mitigate climate change, farmers need to be engaged in process. We held four focus groups with Michigan farmers to hear their perspectives on climate change and agriculture and their educational and outreach needs on this topic. Results indicate that while farmers believe environmental conditions have been changing, they are less certain about “climate change” and their ability to do anything about it. Farmers spoke of climate change adaptations they are doing, but that are not often discussed in the scientific literature. An example includes dealing with more variable weather patterns by buying larger equipment to complete field work faster. Farmers expressed frustration that they are being blamed for climate change when they are producing food to feed a growing population and are stewards of the land. They also expressed gratitude at the opportunity to discuss climate change and have their voices heard, and they listed climate change subject matter they would like more information on. Farmers raised issues and provided insights on topics that are not often discussed in the literature. Efforts should be made to include the experience, wisdom, and input from farmers in the discussion of agriculture’s future in the face of a changing climate.

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