, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 7-29

Agricultural adaptation to climatic variation

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Assumptions underlying impact assessments of climatic change for agriculture are explored conceptually and empirically. Variability in climatic conditions, the relevance of human decision-making, and the role of non-climatic forces are reviewed and captured in a model of agricultural adaptation to climate. An empirical analysis of farmers' decisions in light of variations in climate and other forces is based on a survey of 120 farm operators in southwestern Ontario. Many farmers were affected by variable climatic conditions over a six-year-period, and some undertook strategic adaptations in their farm operations. Frequency of dry years was the key climatic stimulus to farming adaptations. However, only 20 percent of farmers were sufficiently influenced by climatic conditions to respond with conscious changes in their farm operations.