Regulations abroad create issues for fair’s swine exhibitors

By Kyle Shaner -

SIDNEY – The Shelby County Fair Board has been unable to secure a buyer for the hogs at this year’s county fair as other nations have banned a common growth aid, leading American slaughterhouses to change their policies.

Aaron Heilers from the Swine Committee reported during Wednesday’s monthly Fair Board meeting that many slaughterhouses will no longer accept hogs that have been fed Paylean even though it’s widely used and considered safe in the United States to aid the growth of hogs, cattle and turkeys.

“Unfortunately overseas markets have started to ban that in their products so the U.S. slaughterhouses who ship overseas have said no more Paylean in the hogs that are coming to them,” Heilers said.

Heilers thought he had found a cull market buyer for the 2020 Shelby County Fair hogs that didn’t care about the use of Paylean. However, Shelby County Extension Educator Cassie Dietrich said Thursday morning that the buyer changed its policies and no longer will accept hogs that are fed the growth aid.

“There’s not good options, and unfortunately the State Fair is still trying to work out their guidelines,” Dietrich said. “The reality is because it’s legal, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is not going to back anything that we try to enforce.”

The Shelby County Fair Board decided not to change any policies regarding the use of Paylean for now. However, it will monitor Ohio State Fair guidelines and Ohio Department of Agriculture policy, which could lead to changes in Shelby County regulations.

Other counties including Allen, Ottawa and Putnam have banned the use of Paylean at their 2020 fairs, but Dietrich and Heilers said there are challenges in enforcing a ban under current regulations.

One such issue is that Paylean can easily contaminate hogs even if they don’t eat it.

“The problem with Paylean is that it is highly transmittable,” Heilers said. “It’s a dust, a powder. It could be on gates from last year. You could pick it up from the cattle barn and bring it into the hog barn and potentially contaminate an animal.”

Because Paylean is legal in the United States, another issue is the Fair Board likely wouldn’t have the backing of any veterinarians or government agencies if it attempted to ban it from the fair.

“You’re still talking about a legal product,” Heilers said. “It’s legal in the United States. And the fact that our vet last night said, ‘You guys can ban it, but we’re not going to stand behind you if you try to kick an exhibitor out.’”

Even though Paylean remains legal in the United States, the decision of slaughterhouses to reject any hogs that test positive for it makes it harder to find buyers. And complicating matters even more is that slaughterhouses will reject an entire load if a single hog tests positive for Paylean.

Shelby County officials are trying to avoid Paylean issues by finding a buyer that doesn’t care about its use. However, Dietrich warned that solution likely would result in lower prices for exhibitors.

“It’s likely that our market prices are going to look really ugly, right?” she said. “They’re going to be drastically cut.”

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the Fair Board discussed the monster truck show that will be held July 26 and 27, the Sunday and Monday of the 2020 Shelby County Fair.

The Fair Board will pay $15,500 for the monster trucks to appear with Michael’s Entertainment covering the balance of the cost. The board has received donations of cars for the show and is working to get dirt.

It will cost spectators $2 each day for admittance to the grandstand for the monster truck shows. The admission fees and other revenue associated with the monster truck shows aren’t expected to cover their cost, but Fair Board President Eric Garber said the board wants to add more entertainment to the fair. He compared the monster trucks to the Fearless Flores Family, which didn’t charge admission to its shows last year and thus didn’t make a profit.

A complication from the monster truck show is parking for carload night on July 27 as the Fair Board wants to keep vehicles and pedestrians away from the monster trucks. Mike York suggested using a wristband system and having cars park outside the Fairgrounds, an idea the board supported.

Along with the monster trucks, Scott Bertsch from the entertainment committee announced Orbison Hill will perform July 29, the T-102 Country Star Playoffs will be featured July 31, and Nashville Crush will perform Aug. 1.

Garber said the Ohio Fair Managers Association voted to recommend all fairs in the association work with demolition derbies to establish uniform rules across the state.

“It was a very close vote, but it did pass,” he said. “So the OFMA is going to start doing that, and I’m sure it’s going to be for the 2021 fair.”

Dan Geise said there have been problems with the livestock scales at the Fairgrounds. He suggested cutting into the asphalt and pouring concrete so there will be a good base for the scales. The board approved the project with a limit of $500.

Dietrich announced the Junior Fair Board had beef weigh-ins. The beef steer numbers are way down this year, she said, but market heifers and dairy steers are up. Overall, the number of cattle is about the same as past years.

Shelby County’s Junior Fair Board received a certificate Wednesday night in recognition of its complete and accurate Drug Use Notification Form submissions for 2019.

Forms are filled out by all Junior Fair livestock exhibitors when they check-in at the fair to ensure there are no drugs in their animals’ systems. The forms then are sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which reviews them for accuracy. Shelby County had no errors on its 2019 submissions and thus received the award.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board discussed camping and challenges in numbering camping spots, smoking and potential designated smoking areas, repairs to a tractor, benches and sponsorship of them, the sale of the ninja course, road repairs, golf cart rentals, and electrical boxes and potential locks on them.

The Shelby County Fair Board’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Secretary’s Office at the Fairgrounds.

By Kyle Shaner

Reach the writer at or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at or 937-538-4824.