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Hard choices in agriculture under climate uncertainty: risk & decision analysis applied to climate adaptation




Travis, William R., speaker
Morisette, Jeffrey, moderator
International Wildlife Ranching Symposium, producer

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Land managers make decisions under great uncertainty, subject to climate variability, extreme events, and underlying climate change. Two cases are briefly described: A northern Great Plains wheat farmer expects value in switching from spring wheat to winter wheat because it pays more and offers better game bird habitat, but the switch depends on reduced chances of winter kill as the climate slowly warms. When does it pay to make the switch? Second, a rancher has to decide during the first year of drought whether to cull the herd or hold on, hoping that next year is better, a decision that involves contingent market conditions, feed prices, and effects on forage quality for the cattle and wildlife. The farmer faces a classic expected utility problem, with the added challenge that average conditions are not a good guide to the cost/loss prospects. The rangeland drought is a game theory problem because the rancher must consider not just the probability of drought next year, but also the actions of other ranchers this year, which affect both prices now and the potential costs of feed in the future. What information and decision support tools would help these land managers make choices under climate uncertainty?


Moderator: Jeffrey Morisette.
Presented at the 8th international congress for wildlife and livelihoods on private and communal lands: livestock, tourism, and spirit, that was held on September 7-12, 2014 in Estes Park, Colorado.

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Wildlife management -- Congresses
Range management -- Congresses


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