Determinants of biosecurity behaviour of British cattle and sheep farmers. A behavioural economics analysis
The paper analyses the impact of a priori determinants of biosecurity behaviour of farmers in Great Britain. We use a dataset collected through a stratified telephone survey of 900 cattle and sheep farmers in Great Britain (400 in England and a further 250 in Wales and Scotland respectively) which took place between 25 March 2010 and 18 June 2010. The survey was stratified by farm type, farm size and region. To test the influence of a priori determinants on biosecurity behaviour we used a behavioural economics method, structural equation modelling (SEM) with observed and latent variables. SEM is a statistical technique for testing and estimating causal relationships amongst variables, some of which may be latent using a combination of statistical data and qualitative causal assumptions. Thirteen latent variables were identified and extracted, expressing the behaviour and the underlying determining factors. The variables were: experience, economic factors, organic certification of farm, membership in a cattle/sheep health scheme, perceived usefulness of biosecurity information sources, knowledge about biosecurity measures, perceived importance of specific biosecurity strategies, perceived effect (on farm business in the past five years) of welfare/health regulation, perceived effect of severe outbreaks of animal diseases, attitudes towards livestock biosecurity, attitudes towards animal welfare, influence on decision to apply biosecurity measures and biosecurity behaviour. The SEM model applied on the Great Britain sample has an adequate fit according to the measures of absolute, incremental and parsimonious fit. The results suggest that farmers’ perceived importance of specific biosecurity strategies, organic certification of farm, knowledge about biosecurity measures, attitudes towards animal welfare, perceived usefulness of biosecurity information sources, perceived effect on business during the past five years of severe outbreaks of animal diseases, membership in a cattle/sheep health scheme, attitudes towards livestock biosecurity, influence on decision to apply biosecurity measures, experience and economic factors are significantly influencing behaviour (overall explaining 64% of the variance in behaviour). Three other models were run for the individual regions (England, Scotland and Wales). A smaller number of variables were included in each model to account for the smaller sample sizes. Results show lower but still high levels of variance explained for the individual models (about 40% for each country). The individual models’ results are consistent with those of the total sample model. The results might suggest that ways to achieve behavioural change could include ensuring increased access of farmers to biosecurity information and advice sources.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Preventive Veterinary Medicine