Farmer beliefs about climate change and carbon sequestration incentives
March 26, 2013
Benjamin M. Gramig, Jessa M. Barnard, and Linda S. Prokopy
Agricultural land management practices are frequently discussed in the context of domestic and international policies to mitigate and adapt to future climate change. Agriculture has not been one of the economic sectors covered by proposed or enacted greenhouse gas emissions limits; thus, agriculture has been the subject of much research on its technical and economic potential to mitigate climate change impacts. We report the results of a survey of Indiana row crop farmers’ (n = 724) beliefs about climate change, the effect of climate change on their farm operation, and the best way to create incentives for farmers to store more carbon in agricultural soils. Farmer beliefs and their strength of opinions about these issues are important for developing future policy proposals, decision support tools, and emissions markets that involve agricultural emissions offsets. We found that 79% of surveyed Indiana farmers believe that climate change is an ongoing natural process, compared to 45% who believe that human activities are contributing to climate change. A total of 31% of respondents expressed neither belief nor disbelief that humans are contributing to climate change, suggesting that nearly one-third of respondents either do not know or have not made up their minds about the causes of climate change. We found clear differences in farmers’ beliefs about occurrence and causes of climate change compared to the general population. Our results suggest that farmers require a better understanding of the expected effects of climate change on weather and cropping systems management, and that farmers’ beliefs are capable of being informed through outreach and extension of climate change research.
- Cindy Fate