Towards stability of food production and farm income in a variable climate

Caroline Harkness*, Francisco J. Areal, Mikhail A. Semenov, Nimai Senapati, Ian F. Shield, Jacob Bishop

*Corresponding author for this work

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Stable food production is vital for food security. Stability of farm income is also necessary to ensure the sustainability of food production and to protect livelihoods, in a changing climate. We analyse the relative effects of climate variability, subsidies and farming practices on the stability of food production and farm income. We examine farms in England and Wales between 2005 and 2017, and link farms to climate data at a sub-regional scale. Our results show that variability in temperature and rainfall reduces the stability of farm income and food production. While variability in climate can be largely outside of the farmers control our findings indicate that, under current conditions, farm management can have a larger effect on stability than climate. We identified three key aspects of farm management and policy that improve stability: i) increasing agricultural diversity, ii) increasing the efficiency of agrochemical use and iii) agri-environmental management. These management practices have previously been associated with benefits to natural ecosystems and may therefore increase the stability of agriculture whilst reducing negative impacts of farming on the environment. We also found differences in effect size of climate impacts and adaptation options between farm types, emphasising the need for flexible agricultural policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107676
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Economics
Issue numberPart A
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

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