Doll, J. E., B. Petersen, and C. Layman. 2017. Skeptical but adapting: What Midwestern farmers say about climate change. Weather, Climate, and Society 9:739-751.
Farmers stand to be greatly affected by changes in the climate, necessitating adaptive responses, yet little is documented on how U.S. Midwestern farmers understand and perceive climate change adaptation. Eight focus groups with 53 Michigan farmers were conducted in 2011–12 to better understand the following: 1) what do farmers think about the relationship between climate change and agriculture, 2) what differentiates normal weather-related management from climate change adaptation actions, and 3) how do farmers understand the term “climate change adaptation.” Farmers expressed skepticism at global climate change yet conveyed specific details about the local changes in climate they are experiencing on their farms. They were not able to clearly define the term “climate change adaptation” but did note specific adaptive actions they have already implemented. The farmers explained that nonclimate factors were of more concern to them when making management decisions, and they showed reactive (not proactive) actions toward adaptation. Farmers noted that any action they take has to address their specific situation, suggesting that generalized adaptation actions and language might not resonate with them. Building on quantitative surveys conducted by others, the findings in this paper contribute to ongoing efforts to more effectively assess farmers’ perceptions related to climate change adaptation and to use that understanding to promote education, outreach, research, and public policies to more proactively address the consequences posed by climate change.
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