Can Agricultural Innovation systems assist with assessing and reducing Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) risk?

Yiheyis Maru, Marta Hernandez-Jover, Jennifer Manyweathers, Aditi Mankad, Barton Loechel, Heleen Kruger, Lynne Hayes, Rob Woodgate

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstract


Australia’s strong livestock export and domestic markets are reliant on freedom from many emergency animal diseases (EADs). However, the risk of introduction and spread of exotic, emerging or re-emerging animal diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, is rising primarily due to global, regional and national drivers. These include increased trade and movement of people (tourism, migration), animals and animal products, and changes in land use and climate as well as bioterrorism threats. This requires vigilance and continuous improvement of Australia’s current animal health biosecurity and surveillance system, in the context of static or declining public sector personnel and resources for managing these risks.

Continuously improving on-farm biosecurity and passive surveillance can play a significant part in reducing the risk of introduction and spread of EADs. Studies have established that improved surveillance can reduce the time between initial infection and first disease detection which in turn can lead to significant reduction in the number and extent of disease outbreaks and their economic and social impact.

As part of the project FMD Ready project, the authors of this paper are involved in ongoing research to develop a farmer-led partnership model for improved animal health surveillance’ in Australia. This research so far a) has developed a synthesised understanding of the constraints and opportunities for improving surveillance based on interview and focus group discussions with representatives from industry and government, b) is undertaking a vulnerability based risk characterisation or typology of producers to the introduction of, and surveillance for, EADs and c) is in the process of establishing innovation pilots informed by the AIS approach.

Our synthesis work found that interacting structural and behavioral factors constrain improvement in passive surveillance. These include low trust, strained relationships, low risk perception, low priority and motivation, and concern about potential economic and social costs from movement restrictions; while quarantine is often considered as punitive.

These complex factors working are not responsive to conventional top-down provision of more information or more regulative actions to persuade behavioral change and/or adoption of improved practices. Neither is research or technology development alone a solution to the trust, relationship and institutional issues. Instead, we are using the AIS approach to develop partnership among surveillance stakeholders: producers, veterinarians, regulatory authorities, livestock agents, rural suppliers, and researchers. We propose that this approach may have a better chance than conventional approaches to enhance trust and build relationship from the ground up and come up with innovations fit for local contexts. We are in the process of establishing five pilots groups consisting of farmers and other relevant stakeholders in the pig, dairy, beef, sheep and goat industries, distributed across five states. The outcome we are expecting from this change in approach, is that farmers are motivated to increase monitoring and early reporting of suspected animal health problems, and have easy access to rapid diagnostics and response feedback. Improved partnerships are not only important for ‘peace’ time but also crucial if and when outbreaks happen, to facilitate an effective response to EADS.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2018
EventAustralian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists Science Week - Gold Coast, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 05 Jul 201807 Jul 2018


ConferenceAustralian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists Science Week
CityGold Coast


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