Agricultural adaptation to changing environments: Lessons learned from farmers in eastern Ontario, Canada
Agriculture exists in dynamic environments where change is normal. All facets of agri-food systems are constantly exposed to these changes and, when necessary, make adjustments. This study builds on our growing understanding of farm-level adaptations in uncertain environments. It grapples with agriculture change in general and, more specifically, framing climatic change adaptation within the complex and dynamic environments that farmers negotiate on a daily basis. Engagement with the farming community was in conjunction with the Dundas County Federation of Agriculture, occurred during 2009-2013, and included the co-hosting of two focus group meetings plus the administration of 42 in-depth interviews. Many changes in Dundas County over the past 30 years mirror broader sectoral trends, including a decline in the number of farms (-40%) coupled with increases in farm size (+61%) and the age of farm operators (+14%). One significant difference however is that farming continues to be the main economic activity in Dundas County with only a slight decline (-3%) in the overall area devoted to farming. The continued strength of farming reflects the willingness and ability of farmers to embrace technological improvements as well as consolidate farm operations in order to manage costs and buffer uncertainties. Farmers are confident they can manage anticipated changes over the next two decades but are concerned with potential negative impacts associated with more government regulations and farm succession. Climate change, especially increases in the incidence of extreme events, is viewed as another but manageable uncertainty that will need to be factored into longer-term decisions.
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Brklacich, M, & Woodrow, M. (Maureen). (2016). Agricultural adaptation to changing environments: Lessons learned from farmers in eastern Ontario, Canada. In Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change (pp. 13–26). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-31392-4_2