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Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation among farmers in the Midwestern United States


A February 2012 survey of almost 5,000 farmers across a region of the U.S. that produces more than half of the nation’s corn and soybean revealed that 66 % of farmers believed climate change is occurring (8 % mostly anthropogenic, 33 % equally human and natural, 25 % mostly natural), while 31 % were uncertain and 3.5 % did not believe that climate change is occurring. Results of initial analyses indicate that farmers’ beliefs about climate change and its causes vary considerably, and the relationships between those beliefs, concern about the potential impacts of climate change, and attitudes toward adaptive and mitigative action differ in systematic ways. Farmers who believed that climate change is occurring and attributable to human activity were significantly more likely to express concern about impacts and support adaptive and mitigative action. On the other hand, farmers who attributed climate change to natural causes, were uncertain about whether it is occurring, or did not believe that it is occurring were less concerned, less supportive of adaptation, and much less likely to support government and individual mitigative action. Results suggest that outreach with farmers should account for these covariances in belief, concerns, and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation.

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This survey of Midwestern corn producers was developed through a collaboration of two United States Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture-supported projects, Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP): Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation in Corn-based Cropping Systems (Award No. 2011-68002-30190) and Useful to Usable (U2U): Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers (Award No. 2011-68002-30220). Additional funding was provided by the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, Purdue University College of Agriculture, and the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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Correspondence to J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr..

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Arbuckle, J.G., Prokopy, L.S., Haigh, T. et al. Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation among farmers in the Midwestern United States. Climatic Change 117, 943–950 (2013).

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  • Climate Change
  • Supplemental Material Table
  • Mitigative Action
  • Corn Belt
  • Farm Operation