Understanding dairy farmers’ perceptions of climate change and adaptation decisions in the lower south Island of Aotearoa-New Zealand
‘As a farmer you’ve just got to learn to cope’: Understanding dairy farmers’ perceptions of climate change and adaptation decisions in the lower south Island of Aotearoa-New Zealand
The impacts and implications of climate change – such as floods, droughts, heavy rainfall and increased regu- lation – are affecting dairy farming practices in the lower South Island (Te Waipaounamu) of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Adapting to these changes, in an equitable and transformational manner, is dependent on under- standing the underlying root causes of vulnerability alongside local knowledge and values. We apply an inter- sectional values-based and contextual analysis to describe how past and present processes of agrarian change interact across different farmer identities to influence adaptive pathways. Local knowledge, place-based expe- rience, values and perceptions of fairness intersect with different facets of a farmer’s identity – such as financial capacity, land ownership status, debt arrangements, age and gendered participation – to enable or constrain adaptive action. Notably, notions of fairness, whether real or perceived, vary across farmer groups, and influence the kinds of adaptation activities that dairy farmers are willing, or potentially able, to engage in. The results call for more contextualised engagement with farming communities, and highlight the need to build a shared un- derstanding of the complex historical, social, economic, cultural and environmental drivers of past, present and future change, in this highly productive, yet risky, agricultural landscape.