Policy surrounding climate change worries farmers more than climate change itself, according to a study by University of California, Davis, researchers.
The study, conducted in Yolo County where the university is located, found that farmers believed their highest risk was government regulations, not drought, water shortages or temperature change, according to a news release.
But their views did not make them less likely to participate in government incentive programs that would help address climate change or mitigate it.
The study was conducted by Meredith Niles, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.
During 2011, farmers and ranchers in the mostly agricultural county returned 162 surveys.
Researchers also conducted interviews with 11 farmers and two Cooperative Extension farm advisers the previous year.
Of the farmers responding, 54 percent acknowledged that climate change was occurring. Of those, only 35 percent believed humans played a role.
They also were asked their views on four specific environmental policies: mandatory pesticide use reporting, implemented in 1990; phase-out of rice straw burning, 1991; water quality conditional waiver program, 2003; and stationary diesel engine emission regulations, 2007.
Farmers who had had bad experiences with environmental policies, such as viewing them as too costly or time-consuming, tended to believe less in climate change.
They also tended to view policies that had been around the longest more positively, indicating that perceptions may change over time.
Several farmers viewed climate change as an issue in the distant future, rather than an immediate threat.
In addition, they viewed the need to adapt to changing weather as just part of farming.