Devolved responsibility and on-farm biosecurity: Practices of biosecure farming care in livestock production

Vaughan Higgins, Melanie Bryant, Marta Hernández-Jover, Luzia Rast, Connar McShane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


International efforts to prevent the spread of biological threats to agro-food production are increasingly being devolved from national governments to farming industries and farmers. Previous research has highlighted the farm-level and institutional challenges in engaging farmers in biosecurity. However, little is known sociologically about what farmers already know and do to manage disease risk, and specifically how they practice biosecurity. This article addresses this issue through the application of theoretical work on the choreography of care. Drawing from a qualitative study of biosecurity in the Australian beef industry, we argue that farmers' localised practices of caring for their herd health and farm are crucial in making biosecurity workable. These practices take two key forms: skilled craftwork, through which farmers construct and hold together different objects and elements of care; and fluid engineering, which involves efforts to construct barriers for separating on-farm practices of care from perceived off-farm disease risks. In engaging in these care practices, farmers make an important contribution to national livestock biosecurity principles and practices. We argue that greater recognition of localised practices of biosecure care may provide the basis for engaging farmers more effectively in a devolved form of biosecurity governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-39
Number of pages20
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number1
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2018


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