SALEM, Ohio – Five livestock dealers who failed to disclose the health condition of diseased hogs to buyers may lose their dealers’ licenses.
The hogs had been exposed to Mycobacterium avium, more commonly known as avian tuberculosis. The dealers weren’t required to report that information to the government, but they did have an obligation to tell buyers when they sold the hogs in March.
Could be revoked. The dealers failed to meet that obligation, according to Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesperson Melanie Wilt, and now it could result in the state revoking their livestock dealers’ licenses.
Avian tuberculosis is not a significant threat to public health, but the disease can be bad news for a farm, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Hogs acquire avian tuberculosis from the environment, such as a contaminated barn. Although the disease doesn’t pass from hog to hog, it can affect the quality of meat.
The hogs were sold to buyers in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Dealers involved in the matter include: Leroy H. Baker Jr. of Sugarcreek, Ohio; Brian Egbert of Botkins, Ohio; David Emmons of Ripley, Ohio; Keith Lambright of Shipshewana, Ind.; and Timothy R. Reedy of Red House, W.Va.
All five have requested hearings to contest the proposal to revoke their licenses.
Hearings. The hearings will help determine who knew about the condition of the hogs and at what point, if any, the dealers had this information, according to Wilt.
She confirmed there is some connection between the five dealers, but did not give specifics.
Each dealer will have his own hearing and the hearings are scheduled for the end of October. Hearing officers will make recommendations to Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey and once he hands down the final decision, the dealers can appeal to the common pleas court if they aren’t happy with the outcome.
If the dealers’ licenses are revoked, they will not be permitted to deal livestock in Ohio.
If the department revokes any licenses, dealers may apply for another one at a later date, but there’s no guarantee they will get their license back, Wilt said.
Investigation. The department began investigating the situation after officials condemned hogs at several West Virginia processing plants. Ohio officials traced the 1,460 hogs involved in the matter and condemned any that showed signs of avian tuberculosis. Meat from these animals did not enter the human food chain.
Estimates from the Ohio Department of Agriculture indicate 40 percent of the hogs were positive for the disease.
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