SALEM, Ohio – Did he or didn’t he switch ear tags?
That question doesn’t matter much now for the state department of agriculture as it investigates Howard Parrish’s role in the swap of his granddaughter’s 2004 county fair champion hog, apparently to save the prized gilt from death.
Instead, a hearing examiner working for the state says the fact that Parrish hauled the animal from the terminal show back to his home farm – where the alleged ear tag switch could have taken place – is enough for the state to ban him from the showring until the end of next year.
State law. The state’s livestock exhibition rules, as outlined in Ohio Administrative Code, say all Ohio junior market hog shows must be terminal – meaning all hogs shown must be slaughtered – or partial-terminal, meaning at least the grand and reserve champions must be slaughtered.
Young Caprianna Parrish’s champion hog had to be slaughtered.
The exhibition rules also say terminal livestock may not be removed from the exhibition grounds unless traveling directly to slaughter or being quarantined at another location for drug withdrawal.
But that’s not the way it worked in Williams County.
Several members of the county’s fair board have said their policy allowed champions and reserve champions to be removed from the fairgrounds to the exhibitors’ homes before slaughter.
They said it was to ease overcrowding at the lone slaughterhouse that accommodated all the fair’s livestock projects.
State veterinarian David Glauer previously said the county’s procedure of moving animals has never been approved nor allowed by the ODA.
And that’s where state hearing examiner Andrew Cooke drew the line in this case.
Report. Cooke says there is circumstantial evidence that Parrish switched ear tags from his granddaughter’s hog to an animal shown by someone else.
Another exhibitor’s hog was eventually delivered to the slaughterhouse and represented as Caprianna Parrish’s project. The girl’s true project animal has never been located.
Cooke outlined the evidence he reviewed, writing Parrish “took the champion hog home with the correct ear tag; … made up a reason for his failure to produce the champion hog for slaughter on Sept. 20; and … produced a hog for slaughter which was not the champion but was made to look like it was.”
Cooke said Parrish undeniably and wrongfully moved his granddaughter’s hog from the fairgrounds back to the home farm, “which compromised the competitive arena within which his granddaughter participated.”
Cooke wrote the violation “hindered the ODA’s ability to insure the fairness of its competitions.”
OK on this one. In his report, hearing officer Andrew Cooke said Howard Parrish did not refuse to cooperate with the state’s required inspection, sampling and testing of livestock because state department of agriculture inspectors who showed up on his farm searching for the prized hog never asked him to do anything.
What’s next. Parrish filed objections to the hearing examiner’s report with the department of agriculture shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline.
In the objection, Parrish asks ODA Director Dailey to reject Cooke’s findings because Cooke “abused his discretion in finding [Parrish] liable .. when there was no direct evidence and he was neither the competitor” nor the adult responsible for delivering the animal to slaughter.
Parrish also says Cooke’s findings violate his due process rights and the recommended penalty is excessive.
The department of agriculture’s recommended penalty was to exclude Parrish from participating in livestock exhibitions through Dec. 31, 2006. Cooke’s report is worded differently, saying Parrish would be banned from participating “in all fair activities.”
Parrish says the penalty would affect his fair activities, including judging competitions, serving as an auctioneer and interfering with his other duties at various fairs in Ohio.
Parrish resigned from the Williams County Fair Board July 21, according to fair secretary-treasurer Gaylene Carpenter. Parrish was president of that board at the time.
Parrish also says he intends to attend the Williams County Fair to watch his grandchildren participate, but that his attendance does not constitute participation.
Parrish says Cooke’s recommendation on fair activities is unclear.
Penalty. Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey will have the final say in this case. There’s no deadline for his decision.
“Obviously we would like to get that done sooner rather than later,” said LeeAnne Mizer, department spokesperson.
Caprianna Parrish’s punishment included giving up all ribbons and premiums from her prized hog. Premiums totaled more than $2,000. The girl was to be paid fair market value, around $130, for her animal.
Her father, Frank, was originally banned from shows through Dec. 31, 2005, but the department of agriculture agreed on a letter of reprimand instead.
It’s unknown whether Caprianna will show a hog at this year’s Williams County Fair, which runs Sept. 10-17 in Montpelier, Ohio. Calls to the family home went unreturned, as did calls to Howard Parrish.
About the man. Howard Parrish is a nationally known hog breeder, judge and auctioneer.
In light of the accusations, he was asked to resign from his position on several boards and was removed from exhibiting or helping at several shows, including the National Western in Denver and North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.
It was also requested his name be removed from a list of recommended national and state hog judges.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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