University of Wisconsin–Madison

Why don’t more dairy producers participate in JD control programs?


Veterinary researchers in Ontario Canada worked to answer this question and published their findings in the Journal of Dairy Science (online 07-MAR-2019).

ABSTRACT: Motivating uptake of management change recommendations requires knowledge of the barriers and motivators influencing producer behavior. This study investigated dairy producers’ and veterinarians’ perceptions of the barriers and motivators influencing the adoption of Johne’s disease (JD) control recommendations in Ontario, Canada. Eight focus groups, 6 with dairy producers and 2 with veterinarians, were conducted and thematically analyzed. Both producer and veterinarian groups identified physical resources (i.e., time, money, infrastructure) and producer mindset (i.e., perceived priority of JD, perceived practicality of JD control recommendations) as key barriers to adoption. Producers tended to prioritize JD control on their farm based on their lived experiences with JD and their view of the public’s concern about JD. Many agreed that JD recommendations should focus on biosecurity more holistically and emphasize the broader health benefits of limiting calf exposure to many fecal–orally transmitted diseases. Producers also highlighted that some recommendations for on-farm change (i.e., keeping a closed herd, buying from low-risk herds) were unrealistic or too difficult to perform and often disrupted their habits or routine. In contrast, veterinarians suggested that most recommendations were practical and are routinely recommended. Participants suggested both extrinsic (i.e., incentives, premiums, penalties and regulations, and extension and communication) and intrinsic (i.e., pride and responsibility) methods for motivating producers. This study highlights the importance of producer mindset in on-farm change and offers insights into the attitudes and perceived barriers influencing on-farm change.

COMMENT: When dairy producers are asked to shoulder 100% of the costs of a JD control program and receive no compensation for their time and effort or for the costs of making management changes and herd testing, producer adoption of JD control programs will likely remain very low.  If dairy processors would incentivize dairy producers by paying more for milk from test-negative herds, the raw milk supply would eventually harbor fewer MAP and consumers would be better protected from MAP in dairy products.  It’s that simple: Money motivates.