Novel industry-government governance mechanisms for the eradication of bovine viral diarrhoea in the UK and Ireland

Journal of Rural Studies


• Schemes eradicating BVD in UK and Ireland are novel forms of biosecurity governance.

• Schemes are industry led and involve industry-government partnerships.

• Despite novel partnerships government seen as having responsibility for compliance.

• Disagreements about role of government and whether BVD is public or industry good.

• Harmonising schemes between countries was about scaling up responsibility to the EU.


Industry led schemes to eradicate the endemic cattle disease bovine viral diarrhoea involving government legislation represent a new type of biosecurity governance. This paper explores the governance of schemes to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea in the UK and Ireland, using the concept of the institutional void. The institutional void describes the devolution of responsibility from central government to devolved administrations and industry. In addition, our research took place within the context of uncertainty over Brexit and how this will affect biosecurity governance within the UK, and the UK's relationship with EU countries, particularly Ireland. The paper draws on interviews with key stakeholders involved in the design and administration of the schemes across the UK and Ireland.

The paper identifies three institutional logics that motivated the development of the schemes and their design to ensure successful disease eradication. The key findings from the paper were that though the schemes had a novel industry led design, novel governance mechanisms for ensuring compliance other than national government enforcement do not yet exist. The most common response to threats to the schemes' logic was to call for a scaling up of responsibility – from industry to government and from government to the EU. This may allow for the harmonisation of schemes and enforcement of compliance but may also open up fresh legitimacy challenges as control of the scheme is also scaled up from industry to government and government to the EU. While past research has shown that international biosecurity regulation can become depoliticised by the actors involved and is treated as a risk calculation exercise, this was not the case with BVD eradication schemes where the meaning of ‘BVD free’ was a politicised concept. The schemes represented a new departure in biosecurity governance and so raise the need to rethink what compliance means in an industry-government hybrid scheme – is it compliance with epidemiological advice or compliance with the law and how can these two meanings be best harmonised?