Understanding farmers: overcoming implementation problems of introducing animal health schemes
The uptake of programmes to control or eradicate relevant diseases from farms is quite varied in the farming community. In some sectors herd health schemes are well accepted, where in others hardly any farmer seems interested. Within sectors the uptake and responsiveness of farmers can differ considerably as well. In many cases, the success or failure of these programmes is highly dependent on collective participation. Kristensen and Jacobsen (2011) mention in this respect the social dilemma: the outcome of health programmes is more likely to benefit society than the individual farmer. The individual farmer is more concerned with the cost at farm level of the health programmes than with the general benefits of reduction of the impacts of zoonotic risk or for example international trade and welfare concerns. Nevertheless, all farmers in the end benefit from the success of such programmes.
In the scientific world, the interest in aspects of implementation of scientific results is growing. The products of veterinary public health and epidemiological research are often intended to be used in Government initiated programmes or projects, and scientists regularly see that their results are not used, or not used as anticipated. There is a growing feeling that the scientific world should be able to link up better with the world of policy, and of risk management.
This project has the following specific scientific goals:
• Develop understanding of the farmers’ attitudes and motivations to animal health problems on their farms
• Develop understanding of veterinarians’ attitudes and motivations to animal health problems on farms
• Develop understanding of the relevance of farming styles for the uptake of health and disease control programmes
• Develop understanding of critical criteria for the success of policy and governance in the field of veterinary public health, in particular the implementation of health and disease eradication and control programmes
• Analyse the relevance of farmers’ motivations and farming styles for the design and implementation of these programmes
• Analyse the relevance of organisational structures for the delivery of these programmes
• Develop criteria that inform policy makers, enabling them to implement disease control programmes that are tailored closely to farmers’ opinions.
Among the diseases to be analysed, the project will target bovine TB, BVD and IBR. In several European countries, the approach to these diseases is or has been quite successful. There are several organisational structures within which these results have been achieved. In France and The Netherlands an important part is played by farmer owned cooperative animal health services. In Denmark a strong industrial, integrated structure stands at the forefront of disease control efforts. In the UK, some large-scale livestock managing companies are taking leading roles in changing livestock production systems. In the Republic of Ireland, animal health efforts are supported by involvement of the university sector. There are also considerable differences between livestock sectors. In the UK, the level of integration in the pig and poultry industry seems to have made the introduction and implementation of health programmes easier than in the cattle or sheep industry. In analysing the organisational structures, the structural examples that can be derived from these countries will be used as examples. Models based on these structures will be used to identify criteria for the design of optimal structures within which disease control approaches can be implemented optimally.
The project will target the animal health situation in the UK where the endemicity of bovine TB and the current attitudes of farmers towards control of other endemic diseases lends themselves well to the analyses envisaged in the framework of this project. However an important objective of the project is to lay a foundation for implementation criteria in the field of veterinary public health policy that can be applied further afield. The necessity of underpinning implementation tactics with science has been recognised in other areas of the world as well, as a study into the uptake of disease control information in Kenya illustrates (Machila et al., 2007). It is envisaged that this project will be the start of a new line of research where veterinary public health policy and animal health provision in the field are brought together. Growing understanding between the policy world, the scientific world and the stakeholder community will be aimed for.
When applying please select ’Veterinary Science’ PhD within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
European Union, 2000. White paper on food safety;
European Union, 2002. Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and the Council of 28 January2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety;
European Union, 2004. Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific rules for the organisation of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption;
Machila, N., R. Emongor, A.P. Shaw, S.C. Welburn, J. McDermott, I. Maudlin and M.C. Eisler, 2007. A community education intervention to improve bovine trypanosomiasis knowledge and appropriate use of trypanocidal drugs on smallholder farms in Kenya. Agricultural Systems 94, 261–272
Van der Ploeg, J.D. 1994. .Styles of farming: An introductory note on concepts and methodology.. In J.D. van der Ploeg & A. Long. (eds) Born from within: Practice and perspectives of endogenous rural development. Assen: van Gorcum: 7-30.