Farmer Attitudes and Livestock Disease: Exploring Citizenship Behaviour and Peer Monitoring across Two BVD Control Schemes in the UK

Heffernan, C and Azbel-Jackson, L and Brownlie, J and Gunn, G (2016) Farmer Attitudes and Livestock Disease: Exploring Citizenship Behaviour and Peer Monitoring across Two BVD Control Schemes in the UK. PLoS One, 11 (3).

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Abstract

The eradication of BVD in the UK is technically possible but appears to be socially untenable. The following study explored farmer attitudes to BVD control schemes in relation to advice networks and information sharing, shared aims and goals, motivation and benefits of membership, notions of BVD as a priority disease and attitudes toward regulation. Two concepts from the organisational management literature framed the study: citizenship behaviour where actions of individuals support the collective good (but are not explicitly recognised as such) and peer to peer monitoring (where individuals evaluate other’s behaviour). Farmers from two BVD control schemes in the UK participated in the study: Orkney Livestock Association BVD Eradication Scheme and Norfolk and Suffolk Cattle Breeders Association BVD Eradication Scheme. In total 162 farmers participated in the research (109 in-scheme and 53 out of scheme). The findings revealed that group helping and information sharing among scheme members was low with a positive BVD status subject to social censure. Peer monitoring in the form of gossip with regard to the animal health status of other farms was high. Interestingly, farmers across both schemes supported greater regulation with regard to animal health, largely due to the mistrust of fellow farmers following voluntary disease control measures. While group cohesiveness varied across the two schemes, without continued financial inducements, longer-term sustainability is questionable.