USING "peer group" pressure as a way to control the eating habits of overweight people may have some chance of success.
But putting farmers together into Ovine Johne's Disease"protected zones" to create a similar scenario of people pressuring other people to follow the rules?
That is just ridiculous in the context of an animal health program aimed at disease control.
It is, however, a raw way of looking at the situation in NSW if the proposed new management plan for OJD goes ahead on January 1 after state authorities declared they will not support it with any enforceable legislation.
At an OJD industry forum hosted by Australian Wool Innovation in Sydney last week, the NSW Department of Primary Industries outlined its position in a two-page statement which, in part, said: "The DPI position is that any movement requirements into the Protected area will not be backed by regulation."
What does it mean in a practical sense? The Weekly Times put the following scenario to a veterinarian who is involved with developing a regional bio-security plan for a NSW area that is working towards "protected" status.
The scenario was: on January 2 next year a property in a declared protected zone has bought high-risk sheep from a control area of Victoria.
What happens? Not much, it would seem. Asked if the property can be quarantined, the answer was no.
Can authorities access the property to test for OJD? No.
Can any trading restrictions be put on the enterprise? No.
The veterinarian said his understanding was the "committee" supporting the regional OJD biosecurity plan (made up of farmers and industry representatives from the area) could only approach the property and ask them to cooperate in the "best interests" of the region.
"We could talk to them, but not force them to do anything," he said.
Aside from indicating this program can't really be policed, it potentially pits farmer against farmer and fuels the stigma surrounding OJD - an issue a number of speakers at last week's Sydney forum were highly critical about.
About 100 industry people - ranging from vets, to stock agents, stud breeders and commercial farmers - attended the forum and, over six hours, virtually every aspect of the program was criticised.
Some of the speakers were emotional (there was tears), some went in for conspiracy theories about OJD being connected to funding and jobs.
But the majority questioned the science behind the program, the level of farmer input, why vaccination was not being accepted as a trading tool, and why it was even necessary to have regulation around a disease that caused less problems on farms than lice, flystrike or worm resistance.
A fresh issue raised was the accuracy of abattoir surveillance for OJD infection in slaughter sheep, with several vets and meat processor Roger Fletcher declaring it was inaccurate, and the data was not reliable enough to be used to determine infection levels in different regions.
Mr Fletcher hasn't allowed OJD inspectors onto the kill floor of his Dubbo meat processing plant for about two years, meaning no data on infection rates has been collected from the country's biggest mutton works in recent seasons.
Hamilton veterinarian David Rendell said to base an OJD management program around abattoir surveillance figures was akin to "living in fairyland".
Victorian farmer and veterinarian David Hucker said he had personal experience of how hit and miss abattoir surveillance could be.
He said that, earlier this year, he sent 1500 cast-for-age ewes and wethers for slaughter from a property that had a known OJD history. The lighter animals were sold first and then the heavies.
Dr Hucker said he received a letter from the DPI saying OJD had been detected in the lighter sheep.
But a few weeks later he was notified the heavier conditioned animals were clear of OJD and the property could now use the DPI letter to trade into protected areas for two years.
The forum was opened by long-time campaigner Don Lawson, who said for any animal health program to work, the science had to be sound, the tests had to be accurate, the benefits of fighting the disease had to outweigh the costs, and there had to be adequate support in place for properties which tested positive.
The program ticks none of these boxes, and the loud message from industry is that they don't want it. At the very least the January 1 start date should be delayed, and the sheep sector should look at deregulation and removing all trading restrictions that surround OJD.