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Designing targeted incentive policies to prevent the risk of bovine tuberculosis on farms

Designing targeted incentive policies to prevent the risk of bovine tuberculosis on farms
The last few decades have been marked by the emergence of several epizootics (e.g. foot and mouth disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, avian flu) which have highlighted the vulnerability of food systems and public health to these crises transmitted by livestock. Preventing these risks is therefore a major health and economic issue, which depends largely on the preventive measures adopted by farmers. The case of bovine tuberculosis is a topical one in France, because despite its extremely low prevalence (well below 0.1% of herds), the number of recorded cases is constantly increasing. Preventing the emergence of the disease therefore requires the identification of its risk factors, the analysis of farmers' preventive practices and the evaluation of public policies to encourage the implementation of biosecurity. The issues mentioned raise empirical, methodological and theoretical questions that this research addresses. Firstly, a statistical analysis showed the importance of taking into account bovine tuberculosis as a rare occurrence, in order to avoid estimation bias and to accurately reveal risk factors. The analysis of the propensity of farmers to implement biosecurity measures reveals that their choices are interdependent, both at the farm level and locally. A biosecurity incentive policy, studied by modelling, will be all the more effective if the financial aid is adjusted to the characteristics of each farmer and is conditional on the measures being widely adopted.

Background and issues

Bovine tuberculosis is a dreaded bacterial disease, as it affects both cattle and wildlife, and is potentially zoonotic. Its prevalence has been steadily increasing in France over the past decade, posing a growing threat to public health and the trade in cattle products. In a context where its detection is difficult (often ex-post in the slaughterhouse) and treatment is rare, the major challenge is prevention, by encouraging the implementation of biosecurity practices.


The identification of levers to ensure that as many farmers as possible adopt biosecurity measures involves three successive stages: 1) identifying the risk factors for infection linked to farm structures and practices; then 2) estimating the determinants of the adoption of biosecurity practices by farmers; and 3) developing incentive policies that take into account the diversity of practices. The statistical and econometric analysis first showed that the probability of infection was highly dependent on animal density, as well as on the introduction of new animals into the herds, showing that the degree of intensification and the self-renewal capacity of the herds play a strong role. Secondly, the results show that the decisions of neighbours matter a lot in individual management choices, and that spillover effects exist depending on the practices. We also observe that biosecurity decisions are also dependent on other business choices, such as AB labelling or the existence of marketing contracts. These results allow the development of an incentive policy for on-farm biosecurity efforts. A principal-agent model is developed, in which the heterogeneity of farmers, the externalities linked to the disease and its management, and the lack of information on the real health status of flocks (risk of moral hazard) are considered. The results underline that a policy of targeted aid according to the individual constraints of farmers is likely to produce the best effects for the collective prevention of this disease.


The contributions of this work constitute a major advance in the understanding of infection risk management in animal health. The economic and statistical tools developed will make it possible to better evaluate private choices so as to come as close as possible to the reality of farmers in terms of preventive management of health disasters.


A publication resulting from this work is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. The work carried out has also been presented at various seminars and conferences, both nationally (JRSS 2019 in Bordeaux) and internationally (for example AAEA 2019 in Atlanta - EAAE PhD WORKSHOP 2019).

Bibliographic references

Osseni, A. F., Gohin, A., & Rault, A. (2021). Optimal Biosecurity Policy with Heterogeneous Farmers. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, TBD-TBD.

Osseni, A.F. (2021). Preventive management and consequences of health risks in animal production. Application to bovine tuberculosis in France. Thèse de doctorat. L’institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement.

Osseni, A. F., Gohin, A., & Rault, A. (2019). On the optimal policy for infectious animal disease management: a principal-multiple agents approach.

  • 8th PhD Workshop of European Association of Agricultural Economics, Uppsala, Sweden.
  • The annual meeting of Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), Atlanta, USA.
  • 12ème journées de recherche en sciences sociales INRA-SFER-CIRAD, Bordeaux, France..