Climate Change Perceptions and Observations of Agricultural Stakeholders in the Northern Great Plains
Bruna Irene Grimberg, Selena Ahmed, Colter Ellis, Zachariah Miller, Fabian Menalled
This study explored whether Montana agricultural stakeholders’ perceptions and observations of climate change vary according to four socio-ecological variables: income, political view, agricultural occupation, and production region. A survey including 27 questions was developed into five sections: (1) agricultural background information; (2) perceptions about climate change; (3) observed changes in climate-related variables; (4) adaptation practices and strategies; and (5) demographic information. The survey included Likert-scored responses and multiple-choice questions, and was completed by 452 participants, including conventional and organic farmers and ranchers, extension agents, crop consultants, and researchers. The results indicate that while a notable fraction of agricultural stakeholders are alarmed about climate change and optimistic about the human capacity to reduce climate change, the degree of concern and optimism significantly varies depending on the stakeholder’s political views, production region, and agricultural occupation group. We found that observations of changes in climate, perceptions about climate change, and potential risks to agricultural production are driven mainly by political views. Both perceptions and observations drive the choice of adaptation and mitigation practices. It is thus essential to understand farmers’ socio-ecological characteristics when designing agricultural outreach programs in order to reduce barriers for the adoption of climate-resilient agriculture.
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