Stated preferences on foreign animal disease outbreaks and prevention measures

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Lee, Jiwon
Major Professor
Hoffman, Elizabeth
Schulz, Lee L
Committee Member
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This dissertation empirically examines consumer perceptions of foreign animal diseases and their preferences for intervention measures to prevent outbreaks. I utilize several stated preference methodologies and a survey of U.S. pork consumers conducted in the spring of 2020. The dissertation follows the journal article style format and includes three self-contained papers. The first paper combines a behavioral experiment with the double-bounded dichotomous contingent valuation methodology to assess how prior knowledge of African swine fever (ASF) and the framing of news headlines and article content can affect pork purchases. I find that consumers are generally unaware of ASF, and almost half of respondents, who are all typically pork consumers, would be unwilling to purchase pork if there were an ASF outbreak in the United States. Within the experiment, consumers who have less prior knowledge of ASF hesitated to buy pork when first hearing of an outbreak. While additional information that ASF is not a human health threat helped mitigate pork avoidance, the placement of food safety assurance in either the headline or body of the article does not show a significantly different impact on consumer willingness to pay. As part of preparation efforts for a potential outbreak, the results emphasize the role of consumers’ prior knowledge and perceptions of the disease, which relays the importance of media cooperation in proactively informing the public about ASF outbreaks and highlighting the non-impact on human health. The second paper uses a best-worst discrete choice experiment and the sequential best-worst multinomial logit model to study consumers' preferences for pork products produced with possible ASF intervention measures, including enhanced biosecurity, vaccination, and gene-editing technology. I find that a consumer that perceives ASF as a high risk in the United States is willing to pay a premium for possible intervention measures, but additional efforts are required to convince a broad range of consumers of the importance of ASF prevention. Furthermore, consumers who are neophobic to new food technologies express significant avoidance for pork products derived from pigs that were gene-edited. By providing information on consumer characteristics underlying acceptance of foreign animal disease intervention measures, this study could help devise targeted education and communication strategies for the public to increase awareness, need, and hopefully acceptance. In turn, this may help propagate opportunities for advancing scientific investments that support the pork industry’s fight against ASF. The third paper uses data obtained from a discrete choice experiment to examine consumers' willingness to pay for pork produced as outlined in the Secure Pork Supply (SPS) Plan. A prevailing goal of the SPS Plan is to support a continuous supply of pork to consumers in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak and to provide consumers with confidence that their pork supply is safe. I find the presence of significant preference heterogeneity for pork production process attributes associated with enhanced biosecurity, and that consumers are willing to pay between $1.29 and $3.15 more per pound for pork chops produced with SPS Plan participation, from the estimates from random parameter logit models. In addition, consumers prefer SPS Plan participation to be USDA-verified, but are indifferent between industry certification and no certification. The findings may inform producers of the market potential to differentiate pork through voluntary label claims, as well as encourage more producers to adopt enhanced biosecurity, thereby aligning incentives with policy objectives to prevent foreign animal diseases.