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Decision-Making in Livestock Biosecurity Practices Amidst Environmental and Social Uncertainty: Evidence From an Experimental Game

Livestock industries are vulnerable to disease threats, which can cost billions of dollars and have substantial negative social ramifications. Losses are mitigated through increased use of disease-related biosecurity practices, making increased biosecurity an industry goal. Currently, there is no industry-wide standard for sharing information about disease incidence or on-site biosecurity strategies, resulting in uncertainty regarding disease prevalence and biosecurity strategies employed by industry stakeholders. Using an experimental simulation game, with primarily student participants, we examined willingness to invest in biosecurity when confronted with disease outbreak scenarios. We varied the scenarios by changing the information provided about 1) disease incidence and 2) biosecurity strategy or response by production facilities to the threat of disease. Here we show that willingness to invest in biosecurity increases with increased information about disease incidence, but decreases with increased information about biosecurity practices used by nearby facilities. Thus, the type or context of the uncertainty confronting the decision maker may be a major factor influencing behavior. Our findings suggest that policies and practices that encourage greater sharing of disease incidence information should have the greatest benefit for protecting herd health.

Merrill S, Koliba C, Moegenburg S, Zia A, Parker J, Sellnow T, Wiltshire S, Bucini G, Danehy C, Smith J. Decision-making in livestock biosecurity practices amidst environmental and social uncertainty: Evidence from an experimental game. PLoS One. 2019 Apr. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214500