Surveying Australian farmers’ attitudes to climate change

Published 15 June 2010

climateAsk a farmer his opinion on the weather, and you’ll get a succinct answer. Ask his opinion on climate change … well, the answer is bound to be more complicated. That’s why an honours student at the University of New England is conducting a survey of Australian farmers and their perceptions of climate change, their attitudes to the environment, and their levels of trust in government.

Methuen Morgan – himself a beef producer on a property outside Armidale – is a fourth-year honours student in psychology at UNE, and for his thesis is attempting to develop cognitive profiles of Australian farmers. To do so, he has chosen to focus on farmers’ attitudes to climate change, which, he says, are not generally well understood.

“Farmers in this country are too often considered as climate change rednecks,” Mr Morgan said. “Yet many of them are engaging in climate change mitigating behaviours, and studies have shown that over the past 10 years primary industry has been the largest single sector of greenhouse gas reduction in Australia.

“By conducting this study, we’re hoping to develop profiles that could be used by policy makers to better understand and engage with farmers on important issues such as climate change.”

Mr Morgan is seeking about 500 participants for his survey, which takes 20-30 minutes and can be completed online. He said he had received an excellent response to the survey so far, but still needed many more participants.

“This is a chance for farmers to have their say on climate change, rather than people, governments and academia assuming they know what farmers are thinking,” he said. “As a farmer myself, I’m keen to see the horse put in front of the cart by asking farmers what they think about climate change before attempting to impose policy on them.”

To participate in the survey, which is completely anonymous, you must be 18 years of age or older, and should be an owner, co-owner or manager of a property/farm. To receive a copy of the survey, Mr Morgan can be e-mailed at mmorgan5@une.edu.au; alternatively, the survey can be completed online at http://unebcss.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_720fKz3dTeK0IDO&SVID=.

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Methuen Morgan.