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Economic decision-making in animal health and welfare
  1. J. Davis, PhD, MSc, BAgr
  1. Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and Queen's University Belfast, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, UK
  1. e-mail: john.davis{at}

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IN his Presidential Address to the Agricultural Economics Society, John McInerney (1996), a pioneer in the use of economics to tackle animal health and welfare (AHW) issues, portrayed AHW as essentially an economic problem. In reality it is both a veterinary and an economic problem, with the former providing the technologies and skills needed to prevent and treat animal diseases and the latter identifying how scarce AHW resources can enhance society's overall economic, and hence human, welfare. Closer integration of the two disciplines will be important in tackling AHW issues in the future.

In a paper summarised on p 276 of this issue of Veterinary Record, Gilbert and Rushton (2014) make an important contribution to one element of this complex picture. They analyse secondary data to develop a rigorous metric of resources used by the private sector, in this case farmers in England, in the provision of AHW. This work is significant not just in identifying the extent of resource use at the farm level but also in informing policy development, particularly the re-evaluation of responsibility and cost sharing between the public and private sectors in tackling AHW issues (EAGRCS 2010). They estimate that total spending on veterinary medical inputs (VMIs) was £390 million in 2010/11, including horses …

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