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Assessing Perceptions of Climate Risk and Adaptation Among Small Farmers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Farmers, particularly small farmers, are on the frontlines of climate change. In Oregon’s Southern Willamette Valley, a needs assessment was conducted of small farmers in 2017, where questions related to climate change risks, attitudes toward adaptation, and climate beliefs were assessed. Out of all the respondents (n = 123), the majority (70%) believe that climate change is occurring, and is caused mostly by human activities.

The majority (58%) also strongly agree with the statement that they will have to change practices to cope with increasing climate variability in order to ensure the long-term success of their operation. Another 52% of these respondents indicated that they have already taken action to respond to climate change on their farms. However, only 32% of respondents agreed with the statement that they have the knowledge and skills to deal with weather-related threats to their operation. While this work is preliminary and not comprehensive, our findings suggest that these small farmers are concerned about climate change, readily accept the science as compared to other farmer groups in the USA, and are looking for additional tools and resource to increase their confidence in responding to the challenges they will face as a consequence of climate change.

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