Farmer responses to climate change and sustainable agriculture

A. Fleming, F. Vanclay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is a major issue for agricultural sustainability, and changes in farming practices will be necessary both to reduce emissions and to adapt to a changing climate and to new social expectations. A complicating factor is that the processes of behaviour change are complex and can be slow to occur. Discourse analysis is useful in understanding how the discourses farmers are embedded in contribute to resistance to change. Discourses are particular ways of using language in particular situations. They have wide ranging effects on beliefs, values and behaviours. Interviews were conducted in 2008 with 63 respondents, including 22 apple growers, 29 dairy farmers and 12 agricultural consultants in Tasmania, Australia. In undertaking a discourse analysis of the transcripts of these interviews utilising N-Vivo, four specific discourses were identified as being important in shaping farmers’ perspectives of climate change and sustainability: Money, Earth, Human responsibility and Questioning. Each discourse contributes to resistance to changing behaviour in particular ways. An understanding of these discourses offers a new approach to facilitating behaviour change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalAgronomy for Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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