A literature survey indicates that farmers can adopt many strategies to cope with climate change. On the basis of 160 interviews in Gujarat, India, this paper examines which coping strategies are used by farmers and how government policies influence farmer behaviour. This paper concludes that the impressive drought relief framework focuses more on ex post, short-term responses and does not take into account the potential impacts of climate change or the actual experiences of the poorest farmers. Further, some farmers are able to access the variety of policy assistance that the state offers, but credit and insurance schemes remain out of reach for farmers with low credit ratings and large rain-fed farms. © 2010 Earthscan.