SALEM, Ohio – The Daulton family spent their life savings trying to clear their name. Now, almost three years and $30,000 later, they are still not satisfied.
Earlier this month, Ryan Daulton’s 2003 grand champion lamb from the Ohio State Fair was officially disqualified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The department proposed the punishment after the lamb tested positive for ractopamine, a leaness-enhancing drug commonly known as Paylean.
Accident. An investigation found the animal had eaten feed accidentally tainted with the drug by the manufacturer, Rowe Premix Inc.
Investigators found no evidence Ryan Daulton intentionally gave the lamb ractopamine. However, the department of agriculture says the exhibitor still must forfeit awards, prizes, premiums and proceeds earned from the show.
“Even if a food animal is unintentionally fed adulterated feed, the animal still remains ineligible,” said Fred Dailey, Ohio Department of Agriculture director. “Unapproved drugs are not permitted in food animals under any conditions. Although the disqualification is unfortunate, since the exhibitor did no wrong, it is the only course of action to assure fairness of exhibitions.”
But the Daultons don’t think the ruling is fair at all.
“They tell us we’re innocent, but they’re still stripping my son of his title,” said Dennis Daulton, Ryan’s father.
Unhappy ending. The Daultons say the disqualification is only part of the unhappy unending to their story. They also say their reputation has been permanently blackened.
“We’re going to be labeled as cheaters for the rest of our days,” Daulton said.
The Daultons took their case against the Ohio Department of Agriculture to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in November 2003.
They claimed the state’s zero-tolerance policy for livestock exhibition and drug use was unconstitutional and said Ryan Daulton did not receive due process from the department. The case was dismissed in May 2005.
The Daultons then requested an administrative hearing with the department. A hearing officer heard the matter Nov. 23, 2005, and recommended the department move forward with its plans.
Objection. The Daultons filed a written objection to the recommendation and the matter then went to Dailey, who did not play any role in the matter after the initial proposal, according to department spokesperson Melanie Wilt.
Dailey evaluated the officer’s recommendation and the objection before determining the animal should be disqualified.
The family declined another appeal.
Dennis Daulton said he would’ve continued the appeals process in court if he had the money.
“If I was wealthy and had money, we would’ve done that and I’d still be fighting it,” he said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
ODA’s livestock show policy under microscope in court (11/18/04)
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