Developing a risk-based trading scheme for cattle in England: farmer perspectives on managing trading risk for bovine tuberculosis

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This paper examines farmer attitudes towards the development of a voluntary risk-based trading scheme for cattle in England as a risk mitigation measure for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The research reported here was commissioned to gather evidence on the type of scheme that would have a good chance of success in improving the information farmers receive about the bTB risk of cattle they buy. Telephone interviews were conducted with a stratified random sample of 203 cattle farmers in England, splitting the interviews equally between respondents in the high-risk area and low-risk area for bTB. Supplementary interviews and focus groups with farmers were also carried out across the risk areas. Results suggest a greater enthusiasm for a risk-based trading scheme in low-risk areas compared with high-risk areas and among members of breed societies and cattle health schemes. Third-party certification of herds by private vets or the Animal and Plant Health Agency were regarded as the most credible source, with farmer self-certification being favoured by sellers, but being regarded as least credible by buyers. Understanding farmers’ attitudes towards voluntary risk-based trading is important to gauge likely uptake, understand preferences for information provision and to assist in monitoring, evaluating and refining the scheme once established.

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