Risk Management Strategies of Diversified Organic Farmers to Adverse Weather Events. A Case Study in Central and Central East Texas

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Rachel Slocum


Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of adverse weather events. As a result farmers in Texas will face increasing challenges primarily from drought. Evidence indicates that organic farming methods can increase farmers’ resilience as compared to conventional farming methods. This research analyzed qualitative and quantitative data obtained from eight diversified organic farmers using surveys and interviews. The participants were all located in Central and East Central Texas. The research had five objectives; firstly to identify the perceived significance of risk posed to farming operations by drought, hail, excessive moisture, freeze, tornado, flooding and excessive wind and identify which ones farmers expect to encounter more of in the future. Secondly, to explore the risk management strategies already being implemented to reduce farmers’ risk to adverse weather events. Thirdly, to document risk management strategies farmers believe would reduce their risk to these events. Fourthly, to examine the role and demand for federal crop insurance programs. And lastly, to explore what social, economic and political infrastructure is needed, in the participants’ view, in order to be more ‘disaster prepared’. The analysis was informed by existing literature on the agricultural impacts of climate change in Texas, the science of organic agriculture, the current status of federal crop insurance and the application of Grid-Group Cultural Theory to participant risk perception. Participants perceived drought/high temperatures, excessive moisture and a freeze to pose the most significant threat to their farming operations. This is consistent with the forecasted climate change impacts for Texas. In terms of future adverse weather events the response was mixed, some participants expected no abnormal changes as they did not believe in climate change, while others expected drought and dryer conditions to prevail. All participants had already implemented risk management strategies focusing on soil conservation and enhancement, water conservation and farmer preparedness and oversight which has been successful in absorbing impacts from previous adverse weather events. Participants believe that the main obstacles to being better prepared were financial constraints and planning but maintained that both were an individual responsibility and had minimal interest in federal crop insurance participation. Participant responses are congruent with the individualistic worldview as characterized by the Grid-Group Cultural Theory. The fact that participants are not in a group plagued by pre-existing vulnerabilities coupled with their previous successes in risk management has in many instances resulted in a general underestimation of the risk posed by the onset of climate change. As the effects of climate change intensify over the coming decades farmers may be faced with the realization that they need a safety net beyond self-reliance. The hope is that this research will highlight the significance of diversified organic farming as a climate change adaptation strategy and offer farmer insight on how they can best be assisted in light of more frequent and intense adverse weather events.


Agricultural Economics | Biodiversity | Environmental Studies | Food Security

This document is currently not available here.