SIDNEY – Swine exhibitors will need to make their own arrangements for slaughtering and processing their animals as the Shelby County Fair won’t have a block buyer for hogs at the 2020 fair.
The decision, which will be re-evaluated after this year’s fair, is a result of meat processors throughout the United States deciding they no longer will purchase hogs that have been fed ractopamine, which is a feed additive that promotes leanness. Processors have made the decision because other countries, including China, have banned ractopamine even though it is widely used and considered safe in the United States.
“Packers will not take ractopamine-fed hogs,” Fair Board member Mitch Brautigam said of the market-driven decision, “because they won’t be able to ship them to China because China will not accept them.”
Last week the Ohio State Fair announced swine exhibited at the 2020 state fair are required to be ractopamine-free as part of a plan created with the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Some counties in Ohio also have banned ractopamine-fed hogs from their 2020 fairs, Fair Board member Eugene Schulze said, but plans to enforce the bans and penalties for violating the rules are yet to be determined.
“We’ve been making phone calls after phone calls and talking to lots of people,” he said. “Nobody has a solution how they’re going to test. Nobody has a solution how they’re reprimanding these people, nothing.”
Because ractopamine is considered safe and legal by the Food and Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture, the Shelby County Fair Board decided against banning hogs fed the substance from its fair. However, the board suggested farmers should begin moving away from ractopamine, which is found in feeds including Paylean.
“We’re going to put out there to the public that we strongly recommend not to feed (ractopamine) because coming in the future, it’s not going to be around,” Shelby County Fair Board President Eric Garber said.
Shelby County Extension Educator Cassie Dietrich said the OSU Extension disagreed with the Shelby County Fair Board’s decision. The Extension’s stance is show pigs should be ractopamine free.
“I understand the predicament that the junior and senior fair boards are in, and I think it’s a very difficult decision to make, and I do not in any way, shape or form want to make that decision any more difficult,” Dietrich said.
There still will be auctions for hogs at the 2020 Shelby County Fair and exhibitors still will receive premium bids. However, there will not be a market price for hogs, and exhibitors will need to make their own arrangements for meat processing, a system similar to the one that’s been used for the fair’s rabbits and chickens.
The fear in offering a market price for hogs at the 2020 fair is one hog testing positive for ractopamine could result in all of the fair’s hogs being rejected by a processor. The Fair Board wants to avoid the potential financial ramifications of that happening so individuals will be in charge of arranging their own meat processing.
Butchers such as Winner’s Meats still will slaughter hogs that have been fed ractopamine if requested by individuals. However, Winner’s Meats won’t purchase hogs fed the substance.
The Fair Board voiced frustration that it didn’t have much time to respond to the ractopamine issue and said it will continue to monitor developments.
“There’s other county fairs that have contacted me as well,” Garber said. “There’s a lot of people very disappointed that the state fair has put us on an island where we’ve got to make a decision. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s what we’ve got to make.”
In other action, the Fair Board voted to allow the Sheep and Goat Council to host a showing and fitting clinic for Junior Fair exhibitors. The free clinic will focus on selection, feeding, fitting and showing.
Harry Noah from the Sheep and Goat Council requested use of the sheep barn free of charge on March 29. However, that barn and others are being used for storage of campers and other items.
After a discussion, Shelby County Maintenance Supervisor Chris Roediger said he probably can clear out the dairy barn in time for the clinic.
Roediger also reported the inside of the Beige Building was repainted for the first time since 2014 by a crew of volunteers from the jail.
Roediger said a bid of $21,237 was received for a project near Montrose Avenue that will include moving fencing, installing a gate, installing a driveway turnaround and doing landscaping work. The Fair Board voted to contribute $7,500 to help the county pay for the project.
Dietrich presented rule changes suggested by the Junior Fair Board that included moving the goat show back to Arena I, moving shows up an hour, and allowing exhibitors to weigh-in and check-in four lambs, which is up from previous limits. The Fair Board approved the changes.
Garber reported he met with the Shelby County commissioners and discussed a sewage project, traffic flow project and making improvements to the Beige Building.
Brautigam presented the idea of booking racing pigs for the 2020 fair. The board agreed to book them, contingent on negotiating a lower fee.
The Shelby County Fair Board’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 18 at the Secretary’s Office at the Fairgrounds.
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