The contribution of grain producers to biosecurity depends upon the collective effort of all producers in a region. In recent years funding for biosecurity has been more restricted and the number of biosecurity issues increasing. This has meant that responsibility for biosecurity management has shifted from government to producers. Increasingly producers will be responsible for managing voluntary biosecurity schemes that will require them to develop strategies to ensure compliance with best practice and avoid free-riding that leads to the excessive industry cost from biosecurity failure.
The aim of this project was first to work with the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG) to understand the approach of producers to biosecurity management. This was for two types of biosecurity challenge, (i) in stored grain management and (ii) the emergency response to an incursion.
On the basis of the findings from MIG, a series of economics experiments were developed and initially studied by Psychology Honours students using the Behavioural Economics Laboratory at UWA. This assessed the tendency towards free-riding in routine on-farm grain storage and emergency response biosecurity management. A series of treatments relating to communication, biosecurity pledges and contracts were tested in the experiments.
Running the economics experiments with students and the general public allowed the project to reach sample sizes that would not be feasible with MIG members. The economic experiments were repeated with MIG members. Results of all experiments were presented to MIG to demonstrate the problem of free-riding and how strategies can be developed to reduce its occurrence. The software code and training material will be made freely available to other producer groups involved in biosecurity.
This research project was being managed by The University of Western Australia.