Farm service agency employee intentions to use weather and climate data in professional services
Agricultural service providers often work closely with producers, and are well positioned to include weather and climate change information in the services they provide. By doing so, they can help producers reduce risks due to climate variability and change. A national survey of United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) field staff (n = 4621) was conducted in 2016. The survey was designed to assess FSA employees' use of climate and weather-related data and explore their perspectives on climate change, attitudes toward adaptation and concerns regarding climate- and weather-driven risks. Two structural equation models were developed to explore relationships between these factors, and to predict respondents’ willingness to integrate climate and weather data into their professional services in the future. The two models were compared with assess the relative influence of respondents' current use of weather and climate information. Findings suggest that respondents' perceptions of weather-related risk in combination with their personal observations of weather variability help predict whether an individual intends to use weather and climate information in the future. Importantly, climate change belief is not a significant predictor of this intention; however, the belief that producers will have to adapt to climate change in order to remain viable is. Surprisingly, whether or not an individual currently uses weather and climate information is not a good predictor of whether they intend to in the future. This suggests that there are opportunities to increase employee exposure and proficiency with weather and climate information to meet the needs of American farmers by helping them to reduce risk.