Environmental Management

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 379–391 | Cite as

Shifting Lands: Exploring Kansas Farmer Decision-Making in an Era of Climate Change and Biofuels Production

  • Stacey Swearingen WhiteEmail author
  • Theresa Selfa


While farming has been the subject of frequent critical analysis with respect to its environmental impacts, including its greenhouse gas emissions, there has been relatively little consideration of the potentially positive role of agriculture in responding to a future greatly influenced by climate change. One possible realm for agriculture to contribute successfully to this future is through biofuels cultivation. This paper uses the state of Kansas as an example to examine factors that are influencing farmer decision-making during a time of heightened debates about climate and energy. Drawing on interviews with key informants and Kansas farmers, we apply and refine a conceptual model for understanding farmer decisions. We find that farmers have largely positive perceptions of the natural environment. Climate change, especially, is not a salient concern at this time. Factors that appear most likely to influence farmer decisions to adopt a new practice include the relative advantage of that practice and the ability to learn about and discuss it through existing social networks. Successful policy incentives must provide farmers with a continued sense of both independence and contribution to greater societal good.


Farmer decision-making Agricultural change Kansas Biofuels 



The authors acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR, EPS-0903806) and the University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute (KU-TRI). The authors thank Scott White and the Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN) for assistance with our biofuels facilities map. They are also grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urban PlanningUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Studies, SUNY ESFSyracuseUSA

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