Champion steer exhibitor’s sister admits role in livestock tampering

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SALEM, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Agriculture has stripped Geauga County Fair grand champion steer exhibitor Clark Adams of his title after a state investigation showed the animal had been given steroids.
The John and Dona Adams family, of Huntsburg, had initially denied administering any drugs to the animal. But during the Ohio Department of Agriculture‘s investigation, Andrea Adams, Clark’s older sister, admitted she had given the drug to combat swelling just before the start of the fair.
Rules. State livestock exhibition rules, in place since 1995, say all junior fair livestock exhibitors must fill out a Drug Use Notification Form, or DUNF, to indicate any and all medications that have been given to a project animal.
Clark Adams didn’t list any drugs on his form, but a urine sample taken from the steer Aug. 31, 2007, tested positive for a steroid called dexamethasone.
In a statement to an ODA investigator, Andrea Adams said her brother and parents weren’t aware she had given the drug to treat swelling in the animal’s hock Aug. 28.
Adams said she discussed the swelling with Heath Feichnter, who fitted and clipped Clark’s steer, and that Feichtner “told me I could administer dexamethasone …” and “… there was no withdrawal time so I didn’t feel the need to report it on the DUNF form or tell my family.”
No examination. Andrea Adams, who shows horses, also admitted to the state investigator she had called her equine veterinarian, Richard Novak of Novelty, Ohio, for the drug just prior to the county fair.
She said he had dispensed it “with the understanding that it would be for a horse.”
Costly mistake. The $9 Andrea Adams paid for the dexamethasone injection turned out to be rather costly.
The department of agriculture order requires Clark Adams to forfeit all trophies, banners and his entire $7,743 premium check.
However, the county fair board said Adams must return only $5,401.50 to Etna Products, which bought the steer. He will retain more than $2,340, which figures to be $1.75 per pound. The 56 steers sold at this year’s Geauga County Fair sale averaged $1.86 per pound.
“Clark is taking quite a spanking for this and he didn’t know the steer was medicated,” said Howard Bates, fair board president.
Write it down. The fair board is also requiring Clark Adams write letters of apology to the fair board and to Etna Products, and Andrea Adams to write a letter of apology to the fair board “for not following the rules and regulations of the fair,” Bates said.
Andrea Adams is also required to work with the junior fair coordinator at the skillathon contest and to discuss the importance of drug use notification forms. Additionally, the fair board said she is to have no contact or aid in the preparation of any market steer project immediately prior to or during the 2008 fair.
Clark Adams has already tagged in and will be permitted to show steers at the 2008 fair “as long as they both follow through” with their punishment, Bates said.
Taking a stand. The fair board has also ordered another beef club family to send a written apology for its attempt to voice disappointment with the way the county was handling the Adams situation.
John Ferguson, whose daughters Lindsey and Christen also show steers in the county, said his daughters painted the words “drug-free” on two of their four animals at tag-in Dec. 2 as a “silent protest about the slap on the wrists” the Adamses received.
The fair board then slapped the Fergusons with a penalty, too: Both girls must write letters of apology to the fair board “for disrupting and making a mockery of the junior fair steer club” as well as to each beef club member, according to Bates.
Bates couldn’t say how many young people were in the club, but that some 60 steers were tagged in Dec. 2. Each member could tag in two steers, so there are at least 30 letters to be written.
If they do not write the letters by mid-January, the Fergusons will be disqualified and barred from showing at the 2008 fair, the fair board said.
No way, no how. Ferguson said there’s no way his daughters will write the letters the fair board is demanding, especially since they see it as a harder punishment than the Adamses received.
“We’re not exactly sure what we did. We can’t come up with what to say when we don’t know what we’re apologizing for.”
“We’ve always been drug-free and were making a statement well within our First Amendment rights. We will write a letter to the fair board, but not an apology,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said his family will not write a single letter to steer club members, either, since their actions “didn’t do anything to harm them.”
(Reporter Andrea Zippay welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at azippay@farmanddairy.com.)

Related coverage:

Champion steer positive for steroids (12/6/2007)

Geauga Co. steer under investigation (11/8/2007)

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