Governing Antibiotic Risks in Australian Agriculture: Sustaining Conflicting Common Goods Through Competing Compliance Mechanisms

Publication Name

Public Health Ethics


The One Health approach to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires stakeholders to contribute to cross-sectoral efforts to improve antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). One Health AMR policy implementation is challenging in livestock farming because of the infrastructural role of antibiotics in production systems. Mitigating AMR may require the development of more stringent stewardship obligations and the future limitation of established entitlements. Drawing on Amatai Etzioni's compliance theory, regulatory analyses and qualitative studies with stakeholder groups we examine the structural and socio-cultural dimension of antibiotic use and AMS compliance in Australian beef and dairy production. We found a disconnect between how antibiotic use is conceptualised by farmers and the way in which AMS policies construe agricultural AMR risks. Under the umbrella of food safety standards and national-level prescribing restrictions, farmers and veterinarians interact around antibiotic use with different operating logics and compliance mechanisms. These parallel regimes service distinct and sometimes competing common goods of food security and antibiotic preservation. Further reforms to mitigate AMR need to account for the value orientations of different groups and the embeddedness of the constraints imposed by existing systems. Advocacy for greater AMR precaution in agriculture should acknowledge and compensate for erosions in competing common goods and the cost of proposed interventions.

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Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



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