Covering climate change: A content analysis of climate change message frames in agricultural magazines

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Climate change will have an increasing impact on agriculture through both on-farm consequences and the impact of approaching regulation. The U.S. federal government has targeted agriculture as part of the solution to reaching net zero emissions for the American economy by 2030. However, many farmers do not believe in a fundamental component of climate change, its anthropogenic (i.e., caused by humans) nature. This presents issues as farmers need to bolster their operations against climate change and occupy a seat at the regulatory table to represent the diverse needs of agriculture. Few studies have investigated the challenges of communicating climate change to farmers, although the prior research does support the influence of political ideology, risk perception, and values as indicators of belief in climate change. As agricultural magazines have been established as a widely utilized source of information for farmers, this study investigated the nature of the coverage of climate change in 271 articles from three agricultural magazines from 2000-2020. Through a quantitative content analysis, the frames of articles were determined as well as other key variables, including mention of the cause of climate change, economic impact of climate change, and sources used. This analysis revealed the dominant frame used was scientific certainty, followed by political, conflict, and scientific uncertainty. Additionally, articles were not likely to include the cause of climate change. This study serves as a cultural artifact of the nature of climate change coverage in agricultural magazines and contributes to the efforts to effectively communicate this contentious topic with farmers.

Climate Change, Agriculture, Adaptation, Mitigation, Framing, Skepticism