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Can Economics Add Value to Animal Health Policy-making?

31 August 2012

ANALYSIS - The risk of disease among farm animals and farm biosecurity are a public affair, writes Chris Harris.

Because of this the economic impacts of disease control and ensuring good biosecurity are also of public concern.

The August issue of EuroChoices, the Journal of the Agricultural Economics Society and European Association of Agricultural Economists, looks at the role of economics in animal health decision making and how an economic approach can add value to animal health policies.

Prof Richard Bennett shows in his article "Economic Rationale for Interventions to Control Livestock Disease" that good disease risk management and animal welfare are in the public domain and of public concern and that if the public aspects to them are not taken into account resources could be misallocated in instituting control measures.

"There may be a strong case for government or other authority to intervene to ensure a better use of resource," he says.

He adds: "There is a strong future agenda for appropriate intervention by governments in the management of livestock disease risks, including responsibility and cost sharing for livestock disease control, within the European Union and elsewhere."

A Farm Animal Health and Welfare Stewardship Scheme funded under Pillar II of the CAP in the EU is one policy instrument that is being proposed to help incentivise high standards of farm animal health and welfare.

And Prof Bennett added that some countries have public-private partnership cost- sharing schemes that help to share the responsibility and the costs of controlling livestock disease.

In discussing how animal disease risks can be better managed, Tim E. Carpenter and Karl M. Rich show that understanding the nature of the risks is crucial to improving policy making.

They say in their article "How Can Animal Disease Risks be Better Managed" that " The threat of disease, and actions taken (or not taken) to mitigate it, can impact both the broader livestock sector and potentially society at large if the disease is what is termed zoonotic i.e. impacting both animal and human health alike."

Carpenter and Rich identify various frameworks from economics and epidemiology to analyse the impact of animal disease risks in livestock environments and they look at policy.

They examine policy responses to better manage risk with regard to animal disease outbreaks and point to gaps in current procedures.

"Recent advances in our modeling frameworks have helped streamline the complex decision space faced by policymakers and improved our understanding of the risks and consequences of mitigation strategies," they say.

"At the same time, while there has been significant progress in integrating economic and epidemiological tools to analyze risk, more work is required to understand the feedbacks between disease and behaviour taken to control it."

The entire management of regulatory and government response to potential animal disease outbreaks are examined and how different authorities have met the challenge.

For more information about the latest issue of EuroChoices click here.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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