A statewide ban on poultry events would leave a “big hole” in the St. Lawrence County Fair. In Jefferson County, the fair president said fair organizers are not worried about it.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets announced the ban on Tuesday and said it will determine in May if the ban should continue through the summer. The ban is “to help prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the state’s poultry population,” the department said in the announcement.

Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball issued the order “as a result of the continuing spread of strains of HPAI in the United States, including eight detections to date in New York state that have resulted in the loss of more than 10,000 birds,” the department said.

Don A. Peck, Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair manager, said it could have “quite an effect” on this year’s events slated for Aug. 2 to 7.

“It will leave a big hole in our ag area where we usually have the poultry show, usually a pretty big show,” he said. “It won’t affect the fair financially. It will affect the people who come at the fair to look at the poultry show and all the people, 4-H, who exhibit.”

Mr. Peck said about 150 fowl are usually shown, with one-third of them from 4-H and the rest from across the county.

“If we can’t do it, we just can’t do it. It will be the same way at every fair across,” he said.

The fair had to cancel its poultry show in 2016 because of a precautionary order from the state. Mr. Peck said it left “a big hole in our exhibitors area.”

In addition to poultry, be said the St. Lawrence County Fair usually includes “one of the biggest dairy cattle shows in the state of New York, a rabbit show, sheep, beef cattle, and then we have shows for horses and a horse pull, draft horses.”

In Jefferson County, Fair President Robert D. Simpson said he will support Ag and Market’s decision.

“We’ll be guided by them and do the changes they tell us,” he said. “If we can’t have any poultry exhibit, we won’t have a poultry exhibit.”

He says fairs in New York state are already being checked by a state veterinarian before and during the event.

“Animals that come … to be exhibited have to be inspected,” Mr. Simpson said. “Otherwise they don’t even come off the trailer.”

“We look forward to having a great fair this year,” he added.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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