SALEM, Ohio – Keep an eye on livestock projects.
That’s the warning issued recently to three county fair boards by the Ohio Department of Agriculture after livestock projects exhibited at the fairs reportedly didn’t end up at the slaughterhouse, breaking state rules.
Ohio Administrative Code requires animals shown in a terminal show to be slaughtered immediately following the show, and for fair boards and show sponsors to maintain a chain of custody for each animal from consignment to slaughter.
Concerned citizens. In October and November, fair boards in Wayne, Holmes and Morgan counties received notice from ODA that private citizens had contacted the state to voice concerns that animals shown at those fairs had gone somewhere other than to slaughter.
Both Morgan and Holmes counties have partial terminal sales, according to the letters, which means champions and reserve champions must be slaughtered after exhibition.
The letters say the rule is to “prevent the same animals from being shown repeatedly,” to teach fair play and competition to the exhibitors, and to ensure the integrity of livestock exhibitions statewide.
“Fair boards are supposed to follow the trail on every animal and make sure it goes where it is supposed to,” said Cindy Brown, spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture.
Brown said the letters sent to each county’s fair board were merely “letters of warning” to remind the boards of their duties.
Steer and lambs. Letters sent to the fair boards from ODA indicate the animals in question were a steer in Wayne County, the grand champion lamb from Holmes County, and both the grand and reserve champion lambs in Morgan County.
Cindy Brown said she had heard rumors that animal rights organizations were involved. It’s still unclear who removed the animals from the respective fairgrounds or where they went.
Because ODA could not determine where the animals went, they closed the investigations, according to Brown.
Penalty. Brown said the exhibitors of the animals can’t be penalized by ODA.
She said the fair boards can be penalized, however, noting a worst-case scenario would be pulling the fair’s stipend money. That stipend money is set aside from state general revenue funds and funneled to each county through ODA.
(Reporter Andrea Zippay welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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