Skip to main content

Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes of beef cattle producers in the Southern Great Plains


The beef cattle industry is both impacted by climate change and has opportunities to mitigate its impacts. A 2016 survey was conducted of beef cattle industry professionals in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Respondent beliefs were assessed using two questions. When asked, “is climate changing?” 57% provided affirmative responses. The majority also believed human activity was at least partially responsible (8% mostly human caused, 54% human and natural causes, 27% natural causes). Those attributing climate change to human action expressed the most concern, with respondents expressing decreasing levels of concern in proportion to their belief in human contribution. Regulations were less concerning for those who attributed climate change to human activities than all other causal groups. Attitudes toward both adaptation and mitigation were significantly associated with causal beliefs and concern level about general and specific climate change impacts and age. However, a majority of producers expressed support for adaptation efforts regardless of their causal beliefs. Attitudes toward mitigation were less favorable overall with those who believed human activities were the primary cause of climate change placing a higher priority on mitigation efforts than those who attributed climate change at least partially to natural causes and those who did not acknowledge the reality of climate change. Given generally favorable attitudes toward adaptation, focusing on adaptation messaging may be a way to engage those who would otherwise be disinclined to participate in climate change programming and still achieve increased resilience to projected climate change impacts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Arbuckle JG, Morton LW, Hobbs J (2013) Farmer beliefs and concerns about climate change and attitudes toward adaptation and mitigation: Evidence from Iowa. Clim Chang 118(3–4):551–563.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bajgain R, Xiao X, Doughty RB, Zhang Y, Basara JB, Wagle P, … Steiner JL (2017) Climate variability and productivity of grassland under different management systems. Presented at the American Geophysical Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA. Retrieved from Accessed 23 Feb 2018

  3. Basara JB, Flanagan PX, Christian J, Christian K (2016) Increased in variability in climatological means and extremes in the Great Plains. Poster presented at the AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. Retrieved from Accessed 4 Jan 2017

  4. Barnes AP, Toma L (2011) A typology of dairy farmer perceptions towards climate change. Clim Chang 112(2):507–522.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Becerra T, Middendorf G, Campbell A, Tomlinson P (2016) Climate change challenges for extension educators: technical capacity and cultural attitudes. J Ext 54(6) Retrieved from

  6. Booker K, Huntsinger L, Bartolome JW, Sayre NF, Stewart W (2013) What can ecological science tell us about opportunities for carbon sequestration on arid rangelands in the United States? Glob Environ Chang 23(1):240–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Briske DD, Joyce LA, Polley HW et al (2015) Climate-change adaptation on rangelands: linking regional exposure with diverse adaptive capacity. Front Ecol Environ 13:249–256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Campbell Hibbs A, Kahl DW, PytlikZillig L, Champion B, Abdel-Monem TL, Steffensmeier TR et al (2014) Agricultural producer perceptions of climate change and climate education needs for the Central Great Plains. J Ext 52(3):3FEA2

    Google Scholar 

  9. Christian J, Christian K, Basara JB (2015) Drought and pluvial dipole events within the Great Plains of the United States. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 150612105243000.

  10. Combs S (2012) The impact of the 2011 drought and beyond. Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Retrieved from Accessed 8 Jun 2018

  11. Dillman DA, Smyth JD, Christian LM (2014) Internet, phone, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: the tailored design method, 4th edn. Wiley, Hoboken

    Google Scholar 

  12. Fannin B (2012) Updated 2011 Texas agricultural drought losses total $7.62 billion. AgriLife Today. Retrieved from Accessed 8 Jun 2018

  13. Flanagan PX, Basara JB, Xiao X (2017) Long-term analysis of the asynchronicity between temperature and precipitation maxima in the United States Great Plains. Int J Climatol.

  14. Gramig BM, Barnard JM, Prokopy LS (2013) Farmer beliefs about climate change and carbon sequestration incentives. Clim Res 56(2):157–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Haden VR, Niles MT, Lubell M, Perlman J, Jackson LE (2012) Global and local concerns: what attitudes and beliefs motivate farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change? PLoS One 7(12):e52882.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hahn GL (1997) Dynamic responses of cattle to thermal heat loads. J Anim Sci 77(suppl_2):10–20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hyland JJ, Jones DL, Parkhill KA, Barnes AP, Williams AP (2016) Farmers’ perceptions of climate change: identifying types. Agric Hum Values 33(2):323–339.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Joyce LA, Briske DD, Brown JR, Polley HW, McCarl BA, Bailey DW (2013) Climate change and North American Rangelands: assessment of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Rangel Ecol Manag 66(5), 512–528.

  19. Liebig MA, Gross JR, Kronberg SL, Phillips RL, Hanson JD (2010) Grazing management contributions to net global warming potential: a long-term evaluation in the Northern Great Plains. J Environ Qual 39(3):799–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Littell JS, McKenzie D, Peterson DL, Westerling AL (2009) Climate and wildfire area burned in western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916–2003. Ecol Appl 19(4), 1003–1021.

  21. Maibach EW, Leiserozitz A, Roser-Renouf C, Mertz CK, Akerlof K (2011) Global Warming’s six Americas screening tools: survey instruments ; instructions for coding and data treatment; and statistical program scripts. New Haven, Yale University and George Mason University, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Retrieved from Accessed 3 Nov 2016

  22. Melillo J, Richmond T, Yohe GW (2014) 2014: climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment (p. 841). U.S. Global Change Research Program. Retrieved from Accessed 4 Nov 2016

  23. National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) (2014) 2012 census of agriculture. Accessed 21 May 2018

  24. O’Brien K, Pelling MK, Patwardhan A, Hallegatte S, Maskrey A, Oki T et al (2012) Toward a sustainable and resilient future. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Qin D, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL et al (eds) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (a special report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, pp 437–486

    Google Scholar 

  25. Ojima DS, Steiner J, McNeely S et al (2015) Great Plains regional technical input report. Island Press, Washington, DC 193 p

    Google Scholar 

  26. Oklahoma Water Resources Center (2011) Oklahoma agricultural losses from drought more than $1.6 billion. [Press release.] Retrieved from Accessed 8 Jun 2018

  27. Polley HW, Briske DD, Morgan JA et al (2013) Climate change and North American rangelands: trends, projections, and implications. Rangel Ecol Manag 66:493–511

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Rejesus RM (2012) Farmer perceptions and beliefs about climate change: a North Carolina perspective. NC State Economist. Retrieved from Accessed 2 Nov 2016

  29. Shafer M, Ojima D, Antle JM, Kluck D, McPherson RA, Petersen S, Scanlon B, Sherman K (2014) Chapter 19: Great Plains. Climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment. In: Melillo JM, Richmond T(TC), Yohe GW (eds) . U.S. Global Change Research Program, pp 441–461.

  30. Shideler D, Doye D, Peel D, Sahs R (2012) The economic impact of the 2011 drought. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Current Report CR-1046. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

    Google Scholar 

  31. Silanikove N (2000) Effects of heat stress on the welfare of extensively managed domestic ruminants. Livest Prod Sci 67:1–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Spence A, Poortinga W, Pidgeon N (2012) The psychological distance of climate change. Risk Anal 32(6):957–972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Stanley PL, Rowntree JE, Beede DK, DeLonge MS, Hamm MW (2018) Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems. Agric Syst 162:249–258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Steiner JL, Briske DD, Brown DP, Rottler CM (2018) Vulnerability of Southern Plains agriculture to climate change. Clim Chang 146(1–2):201–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Torell LA, Murugan S, Ramirez OA (2010) Economics of flexible versus conservative stocking strategies to manage climate variability and risk. Rangel Ecol Manag 63:415–425

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA (2018) Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990–2016 (Reports and Assessments No. EPA 430-R-18-003). Retrieved from Accessed 1 Jun 2018

  37. Zhang L, Wylie BK, Ji L, Gilmanov TG, Tieszen LL, Howard DM (2011) Upscaling carbon fluxes over the Great Plains grasslands: sinks and sources. J Geophys Res Biogeosci 116(G3).

Download references


This survey was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, under award numbers 2012-02355 and 2013-69002-23146.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amber Campbell.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Campbell, A., Becerra, T.A., Middendorf, G. et al. Climate change beliefs, concerns, and attitudes of beef cattle producers in the Southern Great Plains. Climatic Change 152, 35–46 (2019).

Download citation