Understanding animal health communication networks among smallholder livestock producers in Australia using stakeholder analysis

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Abstract

Smallholder livestock producers are a diverse population with wide ranging motivations for keeping livestock. The biosecurity risk posed by smallholders has been the subject of much conjecture, with comparisons often made between the level of animal health and biosecurity knowledge of smallholders, versus that of commercial livestock producers. This research aimed to gain a better understanding of current knowledge of smallholder production in Australia, particularly in relation to biosecurity and emergency animal disease, and to investigate the relationships that exist between smallholders and the organisations and individuals from which they seek information, assistance and support. Engagement with stakeholders is an important component of an effective biosecurity communication strategy as the dissemination of biosecurity related information from a single source cannot be expected to satisfy the needs of such a broad ranging population. A qualitative study involving a review of literature, semi-structured interviews with government and non-government stakeholders and the development of smallholder and stakeholder influence and interest grids was undertaken. This paper forms part of a broader mixed methods research project among smallholders. Results from the stakeholder analysis showed variation in the parameters used to define smallholders and in the level of stakeholder involvement. Smallholders identified breeding consultants, other producers, private veterinarians and family, friends and colleagues as having a significant to high level of interest and potential to influence their practices. Government agencies were perceived to only have some level of interest but significant influence. Industry stakeholders and rural suppliers were positioned in the quadrant reflecting perceived low levels of interest and influence. The interest and influence grid developed from stakeholder's perspectives demonstrate a clustering around the mid points for both interest and influence, with the exception of those from industry who described low levels of interest and influence. Commonwealth and State government stakeholders reported a higher level of interest than influence. Veterinarians, both government and private, reported some to significant levels of interest and influence. In contrast to the results from the smallholder grid, rural suppliers reported relatively high levels of both interest and influence. The current study demonstrates that to maximise the effectiveness of biosecurity communication, there is a need for government and industry organisations to further engage with all stakeholders involved with smallholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Volume144
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2017

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