The University of Arizona

Vulnerability to Climate Variability in the Farming Sector | CLIMAS

Vulnerability to Climate Variability in the Farming Sector

TitleVulnerability to Climate Variability in the Farming Sector
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsVásquez-León, M, West, CT, Wolf, B, Moody, J, Finan, T
Series TitleCLIMAS Report Series
Document NumberCL1-02
InstitutionClimate Assessment for the Southwest, University of Arizona
CityTucson, AZ

This report focuses on the assessment of vulnerability and adaptation to climate variability among rural populations in the southwestern United States. It is the result of 18 months of field research in the Sulphur Springs Valley (SSV), Arizona among groundwater-dependent farmers and farm workers. The study had three main goals: 1) to assess the vulnerability of groundwater-dependent agriculture to climate variability, 2) to identify historical and current processes of adaptation to the vagaries of climate in the region - these refer to both system wide adaptations, and individual farmer's adaptations - and, 3) to assess the use of and needs for seasonal climate forecast information in agricultural decision making. The study identified a variety of farming livelihoods and examined the vulnerabilities faced by each type. The study also examined the relationship between ethnicity and vulnerability by taking a closer look at Hispanic farmers and migrant farm workers. Each sector faces different vulnerabilities and has developed different adaptations through time. The cumulative impact of the different buffers provided by technology, policy support, and industry-wide market forces has contributed to a general sense that the vulnerability of irrigated agriculture to climate variability is substantially reduced. However, not all farmers have had equal access to these buffering opportunities. Our study concludes that Hispanic farmers and workers remain more vulnerable to climate variability than their Anglo counterparts.