Do you think there as there been some noticeable change in our climate? Have humans had any role in that? If there has been some change in the climate for whatever reason, will it have an impact on crop yields? If there is an impact on crop yields, would you be more willing to buy crop insurance, modify farmland leases to manage risk, or get out of farming? And by the way, do you believe the El Niño/La Niña weather cycle is real and affects agricultural production where you live?
Those questions have really never been asked of farmers in any official research until now. There is quite a bit of political controversy about the topic of climate change, and different sides of the political aisle generally line up for and against.
But what do farmers think about that issue, particularly the ones who may be impacted, if, indeed, the climate is changing? Some thorough research about farmer perceptions of climate change has been reported by Roderick M. Rejesus, North Caroline State University; Maria Mutuc-Hensley, Texas Tech University; Paul D. Mitchell, University of Wisconsin; Keith H. Coble, Mississippi State University; and Thomas O. Knight, Texas Tech University.
Their work focused on 1,300 farmer opinions in North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Mississippi during the spring of 2009. In addition to the thought-provoking questions, some demographic data was also collected to determine trends among various groups of farmers. That data included ages, financial position, and farm organization membership.
Climate change opinions
In the 4 states, 15 percent to 20 percent of producers strongly disagree that climate change has been scientifically proven, however 20 percent to 30 percent of producers have no opinion, and 24 percent to 36 percent of farmers either agree or strongly agree that climate change is a fact of nature.
Are humans to blame?
The researchers report, “Overall these results indicate that nearly one-third of producers have no opinion on this issue with the remaining two-thirds weighted toward agreement or strong agreement in all states but Texas, where almost half of producers do not believe that human activity is a cause of climate change.”
Normal weather cycles
If you are asked whether normal weather cycles explain most or all of the recent changes in climate, a positive answer would certainly be joined by a majority of farmers. In agreement with you would be 76 percent in Mississippi, 71 percent in Texas, 66 percent in Wisconsin, and 61 percent in North Carolina.