Ractopamine banned for 2022 Shelby County Fair

Fair Board declares swine must have Ractopamine-free affidavit

By Shannon Bohle - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Brent Clarity of Clarity Farms, a family-owned hog farm located at 5210 Wells Road in Minster that specializes in Yorkshire and Crossbred show pigs, spoke at the Shelby County Fair Board meeting, which was held on Feb. 16, 2022, in the Senior Fair Office on the Shelby County Fairgrounds, about the use of ractopamine.

Clarity’s presentation sparked a lot of discussion and debate, ranging from banning its use to permitting it.

Ractopamine is a drug used as an animal feed additive that promotes the weight gain of lean meat in hogs. Marketed under commercial names like Topmax, Paylean, and Optaflexx, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1999 as a beta-agonist that is safe for livestock and, ultimately, human consumption.

Globally, however, ractopamine is banned in approximately 160 countries due to safety concerns.

According to a fact sheet published by the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, “The drug mimics stress hormones and increases the rate at which the animals convert feed to muscle.” It was first approved for use in pigs, but its use in cattle and turkeys followed. Overwhelmingly, countries distrusted its long-term potential use in the food supply, and “only the U.S. and 25 others major meat-producing nations allow its use.”

In animals, the Center for Food Safety notes, ractopamine by 2013 “has resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market.” While studies showing negative health effects in humans is limited “data from the European Food Safety Authority indicates that ractopamine causes elevated heart rates and heart-pounding sensations in humans,” and a China-based study reported “1,700 people were poisoned from pork containing ractopamine” between 1998 and 2010.

In addition to health concerns, the Center for Food Safety, suggests that ractopamine’s use lowers quality, saying, it “negatively affects meat taste and tenderness, providing an inferior quality food product.” Lower quality, poorer tasting food products in a global market can negatively impact sales due to consumer choice.

Setting the debate around safety and taste aside, the fact that ractopamine-fed U.S. pork legally cannot be exported to the European Union and China seriously curtails the potential profits gained through U.S. pork export producers.

Realizing this, two major U.S. pork producers stopped using ractopamine. They are Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, which produces several branded products that are household names like Tyson, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, Ball Park, and State Fai,) and Colorado-based JBS USA, which produces brands Pilgrims, Swift, Aspen Ridge, and many others).

As future farmers and protein producers, Shelby County fair participants are being led in a direction, with the Fair Board’s decision, that is following the major companies that may ultimately influence a national trend, and these are also the same companies to which their pork may ultimately be sold to or will compete with.

The Shelby County Fair Board’s vote, first moved by Tim Martin, and seconded by Jody Rowles, passed, joining similar decisions by Fair Boards in Auglaize, Putnam, Logan, and Van Wert counties.

In other news from the February meeting, Fair Board members:

• Voted to approve the February bills to be paid.

• Took photos of the Board, including the new District 2 OFMA Rep – Kendra Von Lehmden-Wentz who was sworn in during this meeting, for the 2022 fair book.

• Noted the following needed Clopay building maintenance will be delayed until winter 2023: gutting the kitchen, building new walls on the south side of the building, installing a replacement of the seal plate, and reviewing the wiring, with additional suggestions to build sinks into the countertop, install overhead cabinets, remove a side door, and add new heating duct work.

• Reminded the board that Phase 4 of the INI project, a new sanitary line south to Fair Road from Adams Apple south, will begin soon.

• Passed a motion to purchase a new drag from North Star for $1,175, due to normal wear and tear.

• Decided sale animals will go to auction and then put on the block truck, and that buyers who opt to keep the animal instead must pay both the premium bid and the block price.

• Announced an offer was extended to an (unnamed) applicant for the 4-H Extension educator position and that hiring should be completed and someone placed in the office by March 14, 2022.

Fair Board declares swine must have Ractopamine-free affidavit

By Shannon Bohle

[email protected]