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Transforming our use of veterinary economic assessment - SE4304

Government intervention to prevent and failing that to minimise the impact of exotic animal disease incursion into the UK is justified. There are several reasons for this. For example, only Government has the resources and power needed to implement the national and international prevention and control strategies required and to enact the associated legislation. Without Government intervention, farmers and other private actors may fail to make decisions that maximise the net benefit of animal health to Society from ignorance of what is required and/or for lack of appropriate incentives to act. However, it is important that Government intervenes in the right ways to ensure the best interests of Society. With hind sight it is clear that this has not always happened. For example, the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 is estimated to have resulted in losses to agriculture and the food chain of about £3.1 billion, with most of this being met by the tax payer through compensation payments. Other high profile epidemics have threatened human health as well as the health and welfare of livestock. Growing concerns about food security and the impacts of agriculture on the environment are exacerbated by the threat of exotic disease incursion.
There is now general agreement that the costs and responsibilities of future exotic disease prevention and control programmes should be shared more evenly between Society and the food industry. However, to do this requires knowledge of the risks faced from a range of diseases that could arrive in the UK, what the consequences may be, how both these may be mitigated and by whom. The aim of this project is to address this problem by bringing together the necessary existing information from a range of sources (scientific literature, computer models, data and expert knowledge), quality assuring it, assessing its relative importance, validity, accuracy and placing it in an appropriate generic framework. This framework will allow policy makers to systematically assess the costs and benefits of alternative policy options in response to the perceived threats from a range of diseases exotic to the UK both known and unknown. The project will strengthen its outcomes by drawing comparisons between the UK and a contrasting European country.
General aim: To strengthen the assessment of the expected frequency, magnitude and costs of exotic disease outbreaks in UK livestock and to develop a robust and widely-accepted tool for use in economic analysis of animal disease policy.

Specific objectives:

1. Evaluate and optimise existing epidemiological and economic models and risk assessments related to exotic disease outbreaks.

The deliverable will be a table for the disease expected to be included, specifying:
a. Affected species
b. Probability of an outbreak per year (and expected interval between outbreaks)
c. Expected costs of outbreak to government and other sectors (and derived average annual cost).
The table will, together with the methodology, data sources, assumptions and models, be explained in the final report.

The economic models will be evaluated by SAC, all other work will involve all partners. This objective will largely be completed in Stage 1 and used for the pilot model. Re-parameterisation will be conducted for different diseases in Stage 2, alternative policies in Stage 3 and for another country in Stage 4 .

2. Explicitly assess and communicate the uncertainty around the estimated key output values.

The aim here is to advise policy makers, practically, how the estimates and uncertainty should be interpreted and used for policy purposes. The deliverable will be the provision of a set of uncertainty assessment and evaluation tools, which will be used in the project (to aid interaction with and participation of experts and policy makers/their representatives) and explained in the final report.

As with objective 1, this objective will be re-applied in each of the various Stages of the project as appropriate for that stage (WP2). The timings are set by the workshops and verification established at the planning meetings.

3. Provide a mechanism for updating the data and information used in the models and for elicitation of expert opinions.

The deliverable will be an interface for data updating that includes specific tools for quality assessment of data and information sources and expert elicitations. This interface will be developed by Koen Mintiens of Avia-GIS bvba, with support from the rest of the team. It will be developed in Stages 3 and 4 for completion by the end of the project (March 2014). The interface and tools will be explained in the final model.

4. Provide a scenario analysis for assessment of the expected frequency, magnitude and costs of exotic disease under alternative government policies and control strategies.

The deliverable will be the inclusion of policy and control strategy parameters in the epidemiological and economical models and risk assessments, which can be altered for scenario analysis. The work will involve all partners and commence in Stage 3, broadening out to international comparisons in Stage 4. The scenario analysis will be described in the final report.
Project Documents
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2014

Cost: £199,750
Contractor / Funded Organisations
SAC Commercial Ltd
Animal Diseases              
Animal Health              
Economic Policy Evaluation              
Plants and Animals