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Scott R. Templeton
,
Alan A. Hooper
,
Heather D. Aldridge
, and
Norman Breuer

Abstract

In baseline surveys that were conducted in Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina, extension personnel were asked whether, how, and which farmers would use climate forecasts to manage production and other aspects of their agribusinesses. In making such assessments extensionists use their expertise to account for, the authors assume, net benefits to farmers of the forecasts, given any help that they also expect to provide their clients. Models of conditional probabilities are estimated to show how the assessments depend on the expertise and other characteristics of the extensionist and her clientele. For example, if a person has worked at least 7 years in extension, she is more likely to agree or strongly agree that farmers are interested in using climate forecasts. An extensionist who works with field crop producers is more likely than one who does not to think that a farmer can use climate forecasts to improve planting schedules, harvest planning, crop selection, nutrient management, and land allocation. An extensionist is more likely to assess that farmers who produce particular crops can use climate forecasts to be more successful if she works with them. An extensionist whose clientele’s average farm size exceeds 200 acres is more likely to indicate that a farmer can use climate forecasts to improve irrigation management, harvest planning, and crop selection. In addition to serving as references for future work, these conditional assessments almost always provide more nuanced and useful information than unconditional ones about potential farmer interest in and uses of climate forecasts for the three-state region.

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Todd A. Crane
,
Carla Roncoli
,
Joel Paz
,
Norman Breuer
,
Kenneth Broad
,
Keith T. Ingram
, and
Gerrit Hoogenboom
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Todd A. Crane
,
Carla Roncoli
,
Joel Paz
,
Norman Breuer
,
Kenneth Broad
,
Keith T. Ingram
, and
Gerrit Hoogenboom

Abstract

During the last 10 yr, research on seasonal climate forecasts as an agricultural risk management tool has pursued three directions: modeling potential impacts and responses, identifying opportunities and constraints, and analyzing risk communication aspects. Most of these approaches tend to frame seasonal climate forecasts as a discrete product with direct and linear effects. In contrast, the authors propose that agricultural management is a performative process, constituted by a combination of planning, experimentation, and improvisation and drawing on a mix of technical expertise, situated knowledge, cumulative experience, and intuitive skill as farmers navigate a myriad of risks in the pursuit of livelihood goals and economic opportunities. This study draws on ethnographic interviews conducted with 38 family farmers in southern Georgia, examining their livelihood goals and social values, strategies for managing risk, and interactions with weather and climate information, specifically their responses to seasonal climate forecasts. Findings highlight the social nature of information processing and risk management, indicating that both material conditions and value-based attitudes bear upon the ways farmers may integrate climate predictions into their agricultural management practices. These insights translate into specific recommendations that will enhance the salience, credibility, and legitimacy of seasonal climate forecasts among farmers and will promote the incorporation of such information into a skillful performance in the face of climate uncertainty.

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