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Farmers and the uncertainty of tariffs and extreme weather

Authors: Kurt Waldman*, Dept of Geography, Stacey Giroux, Indiana University, James Farmer, Indiana University, Bradi Heaberlin, Indiana University
Topics: Behavioral Geography, Agricultural Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: decision making, agriculture, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Farmers across the country in embattled agricultural industries face increasing uncertainty, both social and environmental. Policy shifts in the form of U.S.-imposed tariffs and concomitant retaliation by nations affected, as well as industry trends toward consolidation, are exacerbating U.S. farmers’ adaptive capacity. The corn and soybean sectors have been hardest hit by the recent trade war, and the dairy industry is undergoing significant and rapid change due to consolidation. Indiana is among the top five states for corn and soybean production and is 14th in dairy production (USDA NASS, 2017). This presentation uses farm level survey research with approximately 200 Indiana farmers to understand how they respond to social and environmental uncertainty. We characterize their well-being and decision-making processes at a time of record high farm bankruptcies (Newman and Bunge, 2019) and at a time when suicide rates among farmers and agriculture workers are more prevalent than homicide rates (Riggenberg et al., 2018). Our work demonstrates how farmers perceive social versus environmental uncertainty and how they conceptualize thresholds to farm exit.

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