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Does climate change framing matter? Evidence from an experiment of crop advisors in the Midwestern United States

A Correction to this article was published on 12 June 2020

This article has been updated

Abstract

Climate change is predicted to have increasingly negative consequences for the agricultural sector. Thus, it is important that crop advisors encourage farmers to adopt management practices that help mitigate or adapt to these changes. However, widespread skepticism persists regarding the existence of anthropogenic climate change and the need for conservation practices. Previous research indicates that individuals who are skeptical of the existence of climate change may be resistant to adopting conservation behaviors when they are described as addressing climate change impacts. Framing such practices as instead addressing “weather extremes” may be one method to encourage recommendations of such conservation practices. In the current study, we examined whether framing cover crops—a climate change-adaptive practice that enhances soil health—as a way to address that weather extremes rather than climate change would enhance crop advisors’ reported likelihood of recommending cover crops to their farmers, particularly among advisors who are skeptical of the existence of climate change. Support for cover crops among crop advisors in our sample was quite high overall, but as predicted, those who were more skeptical of climate change were less likely to recommend cover crops. However, framing condition (whether cover crops were described as addressing weather variability vs. climate change vs. no frame) had no main or moderating effects. These findings suggest that the use of climate change messaging in the framing of farm management practices may not negatively influence crop advisors’ recommendations as much as previously thought, but more research using other conservation practices is needed.

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  • 12 June 2020

    The original article has been updated.

Notes

  1. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Ezgi Ozgumus for assistance in data preparation and analysis.

Funding

This work was supported by a Purdue Climate Change Research Center Seed Grant and by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Award Number 2011-68002-30220, project titled “Useful to Usable (U2U): Transforming Climate Variability and Change Information for Cereal Crop Producers.”.

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Correspondence to Ajay S. Singh.

Ethics declarations

Our experimental procedures conformed to the ethical standards for research on human subjects as per the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and were approved by the Purdue University Institutional Review Board (approval #1603017474).

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The original version of this article was revised: During proof correction, the author supplied new images that were unfortunately not included.

Highlights

• Support for cover crops is high among Midwestern US crop advisors

• Experiment used to ascertain support effects of different frames on cover crop support

• Skeptics of anthropogenic climate change less likely to recommend cover crops

• No effect of framing cover crops as addressing weather extremes vs. climate change

Appendix

Appendix

Figure A1:
figure 2

Control frame

Figure A2:
figure 3

Weather extremes frame

Figure A3:
figure 4

Climate change frame

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Singh, A.S., Church, S.P., Dang, L. et al. Does climate change framing matter? Evidence from an experiment of crop advisors in the Midwestern United States. Climatic Change 162, 1031–1044 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02703-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02703-8

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Framing
  • Conservation
  • Crop advisor
  • Cover crops