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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Improving Animal Health on Organic Dairy Farms: Stakeholder Views on Policy Options

Krieger, Margret; Jones, Philip J.; Blanco-Penedo, Isabel; Blanco Penedo, Isabel; Duval, Julie E.; Emanuelson, Ulf; Hoischen-Taubner, Susanne; Sjöström, Karin; Sundrum, Albert


Although ensuring good animal health is a stated aim of organic livestock farming and an important reason why consumers purchase organic products, the health states actually achieved are comparable to those in conventional farming. Unfortunately, there have been no studies to date that have assessed stakeholder views on different policy options for improving animal health on organic dairy farms. To address this deficit, stakeholder consultations were conducted in four European countries, involving 39 supply-chain stakeholders (farmers, advisors, veterinarians, inspectors, processors, and retailers). Stakeholders were encouraged to discuss different ways, including policy change, of improving organic health states. Acknowledging the need for further health improvements in organic dairy herds, stakeholders generally favoured establishing outcome-oriented animal health requirements as a way of achieving this. However, as a result of differing priorities for animal health improvement, there was disagreement on questions such as: who should be responsible for assessing animal health status on organic farms; and how to define and implement minimum health requirements. The results of the study suggest that future research must fully explore the opportunities and risks of different policy options and also suggest ways to overcome the divergence of stakeholders' interests in public debates.


production diseases; dairy cows; organic farming; health requirements; outcome-oriented measures; stakeholder consultation; policy instruments

Published in

2020, Volume: 12, number: 7, article number: 3001