Identifying what Extension professionals believe are the critical elements of a communication strategy that is most likely to encourage agricultural producers to participate in discussions of climate variability and climate change is pivotal to providing timely solutions to issues facing farmers. The current study involved interviews with 50 Extension professionals from four southeastern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina) who were engaged in ongoing work related to climate and agriculture. Respondents were asked to assess how best to engage farmers in conversations related to climate variability and climate change. Qualitative analysis showed that Extension professionals recommended avoiding content related to politics, attribution of climate change to human causes, and telling farmers what to do. Respondents recommended emphasizing adaptation strategies, climate variability over climate change, evidence that climate change exists, and the financial benefits for farmers. In addition, Extension professionals proposed several delivery methods they thought would be most effective with farmers, including delivery tailored to the characteristics of the audience, a positive overall tone, and an understanding that engagement should be viewed as a long-term process based on building relationships with farmers. The findings suggest that farmers are a potentially receptive audience on climate issues when properly approached.
Diehl, D. C.,
Garcia, E. P.,
Sloan, N. L.,
Dourte, D. R.,
Fraisse, C. W.
(2016). From Resistance to Receptiveness: Farmer Willingness to Participate in Extension Discussions About Climate Variability and Climate Change.
Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 4(3), 4.
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