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New Policy and Research Briefs on Farmer Perspectives of Climate Change

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By Meredith Niles - Posted on 09 February 2012

Today at the Center we are pleased to announce the release of two new research and policy briefs for the climate change and agriculture project. Based on the results of a survey with farmers in Yolo County, California, these briefs discuss farmer perspectives of climate change adaptation and mitigation, adoption of practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and future concerns related to climate change. The first brief on farmers’ climate change attitudes highlights farmer perspectives on climate change including their belief in climate change, the risks and opportunities it presents, and whether humans are causing climate change. Some of the key findings include:

• A slight majority of farmers agree (54%) that the global climate is changing. Fewer agree that global temperatures are increasing (38%) and that human activities are an important cause of climate change (35%).
• Many farmers believe that climate change poses risks to agriculture globally (53%), but many also believe that climate change presents opportunities for agriculture globally (45%).
• Many agree that the risks of climate change will outweigh the benefits more at a global level than a local level.
• Most farmers believe past climate conditions have been stable, with water availability as a notable exception.
• Farmers are most concerned about future climate impacts related to policies and markets followed by moderate concern about water supply.
• Nearly 20% of farmers are uncertain about climate change risks, existence, and past changes.

The second brief discusses farmer adoption of practices for climate change adaptation and mitigation. We discuss both practice adoption that has already occurred as well as the potential adoption of practices in the future. Key findings of this brief include:

• Yolo County farmers have already implemented a number of conservation management practices compared to 1990.
• Overall, drip irrigation has increased nearly 17% since 1990 while conservation tillage and certified organic acreage have increased approximately 12% and 7% respectively.
• High-value specialty groups like grapes and orchards have implemented the largest amount of conservation practices, particularly drip irrigation.
• Nitrogen fertilizer applied per acre has not changed significantly since 1990.
• Farmers are most interested in adaptation practices related to irrigation and less likely to change cropping choices.
• For mitigation, farmers are more likely to adopt practices to reduce energy inputs or increase efficiency than practices with high upfront costs like methane digesters or increased organic acreage.

Additional manuscripts and policy briefs will continue to be written about this project as we explore the data further. Research involving the agricultural community is crucial for the development of effective outreach, education, and policy initiatives to understand farmer perspectives and management strategies. We are very thankful for the efforts and participation of many Yolo County farmers, policymakers, and organizations who contributed to these results. Additional information about the project can be found at the project website:

http://agadapt.ucdavis.edu/

and in the upcoming California Energy Commission report:

Citation: Jackson, L.E., V.R. Haden, A.D. Hollander, H. Lee, M. Lubell, V.K. Mehta, A.T. O’Geen, M. Niles, J. Perlman, D. Purkey, W. Salas, D. Sumner, M. Tomuta, M. Dempsey and S.M. Wheeler. Adaptation strategies for agricultural sustainability in Yolo County, California. In press, Report to the California Climate Change Center.

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Yolo_Climate_Attitudes_Policy_Brief_FINAL.pdf630.93 KB
Yolo_Climate_Practices_Policy_Brief_FINAL.pdf516.97 KB