New research info farmers’ decision making and climate change 17 Feb 2011

A new report released today by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation helps to explain what drives farmers’ decision making in relation to climate change. 

“This new report looks at how different kinds of farmers react to the prospect of climate change adaptation, and the factors that impact on their decision making,” Mr Craig Burns, RIRDC Managing Director said. 

“The study found that health and social factors were key attributes of farmers who were seeking to move towards more sustainable farming practices. 

“It also found many farmers are driven by a sense of moral responsibility when it comes to their attitudes to sustainability. 

“The report will help inform policy making and will assist in the formulation of government policies and programs to ensure they are targeted at meeting farmers’ needs.” 

Decisions Made by Farmers that Relate to Climate Change found that farmers’ ability to adapt to climate change is strongly linked to their capacity to cope with change, their social connectedness and how they use information.

The report was based on a study of 4,000 Australian farmers undertaken by in 2008 by the former Bureau of Rural Sciences (now ABARES).

Researchers classified farmers into three categories; ‘Cash poor long term adaptors’ (55 percent of sample), ‘comfortable non-adaptors’ (26 percent of sample) and ‘transitioners’ (19 percent of sample) and then looked at how these respective groups adapt to climate change.  

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • ‘Cash poor long term adaptors’ actively seek to adapt their farming practices to manage climate change risk and to be sustainable in the long term; 

  • ‘Comfortable non-adaptors’ feel little pressure to seriously consider climate change or the adaptive practices that adverse climate change will demand;

  • ‘Transitioners’ had poor overall adaptive capacity, and were less certain about climate change and what they should do about it. 

The report is available on the RIRDC website