“Monitoring disease risk is not a huge priority, but herd health, that’s sort of important” – Beyond a top down approach, using farming stories to develop a farmer-led disease surveillance system

Author: Jennifer Manyweathers – Graham Centre for Agricultural innovation (Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Australia

Marta Hernandez-Jover – Charles Sturt University
Heleen Kruger – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Science
Barton Loechel – CSIRO Land and Water
Aditi Mankad – CSIRO Land and Water
Yiheyis Maru – CSIRO Land and Water

Australia’s animal industries rely on their ‘clean and green’ status: free from many diseases that are endemic elsewhere in the world. This status is fragile, relying on a mixture of pre-border, border and post-border control activities. On-farm surveillance is a key component of the post-border control activities. An incursion of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus into susceptible livestock, such as beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, would have devastating impacts on faming families and communities as well as Australian domestic and international markets.

Research has established that by reducing the time between initial infection and when the disease is first detected, the duration of the outbreak and consequently the financial and emotional impact can be significantly reduced. However, this relies on understanding more about the stories behind farmer practices and attitudes towards animal health, which influence the capacity for early detection.

This project aims to build a clearer understanding of these stories behind behaviour, practices and attitudes of farmers around their animals’ health. Initially, segments of the different livestock industries will be identified, according to the risk they face of an FMD outbreak, in relation to potential exposure and capacity to respond to such an outbreak. Risk characterisation data will be collected via a survey and followed by detailed social, institutional and behavioural network analyses to inform the development of an innovative tailored pilot surveillance program. The program will be created within the context of each producer group, based on agricultural innovations systems and aimed at establishing a farmer-led, partnership model to improve on-farm disease surveillance. This bottom up model will allow for individual stories and farming approaches to inform the development of the surveillance program, creating a trust based model for better national disease surveillance for Australia’s animal industries.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice