Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 349–365 | Cite as

Do advisors perceive climate change as an agricultural risk? An in-depth examination of Midwestern U.S. Ag advisors’ views on drought, climate change, and risk management

  • Sarah P. Church
  • Michael Dunn
  • Nicholas Babin
  • Amber Saylor Mase
  • Tonya Haigh
  • Linda S. Prokopy


Through the lens of the Health Belief Model and Protection Motivation Theory, we analyzed interviews of 36 agricultural advisors in Indiana and Nebraska to understand their appraisals of climate change risk, related decision making processes and subsequent risk management advice to producers. Most advisors interviewed accept that weather events are a risk for US Midwestern agriculture; however, they are more concerned about tangible threats such as crop prices. There is not much concern about climate change among agricultural advisors. Management practices that could help producers adapt to climate change were more likely to be recommended by conservation and Extension advisors, while financial and crop advisors focused more upon season-to-season decision making (e.g., hybrid seeds and crop insurance). We contend that the agricultural community should integrate long-term thinking as part of farm decision making processes and that agricultural advisors are in a prime position to influence producers. In the face of increasing extreme weather events, climatologists and advisors should work more closely to reach a shared understanding of the risks posed to agriculture by climate change.


Adaptation Health belief model Protection motivation theory Drought Qualitative 



Gross domestic product


Health belief model


Protection motivation theory


United States



Funding for this research was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) Grant Number NA13OAR431012 and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant Number 2011-68002-30220. We thank the many agricultural advisors who agreed to be interviewed for this research. We also thank three anonymous reviewers, who provided valuable and useful feedback incorporated into this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This research was reviewed and granted approval by the Purdue University Human Research Protection Program Institutional Review Board.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah P. Church
    • 1
  • Michael Dunn
    • 2
  • Nicholas Babin
    • 3
  • Amber Saylor Mase
    • 4
  • Tonya Haigh
    • 5
  • Linda S. Prokopy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Ecosystems, Society and BiosecurityForest ResearchRoslin, MidlothianUK
  3. 3.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesSierra Nevada CollegeIncline VillageUSA
  4. 4.Environmental Resources CenterUniversity of Wisconsin ExtensionMadisonUSA
  5. 5.National Drought Mitigation CenterUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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