XENIA — The poultry hall at the Greene County Fairgrounds could be filled with feathers, cages, squawks and all manner of bird noises once again come fair time this summer thanks to the lifting of a bird exhibition ban by state agriculture officials last week.
“As a fair board we’re super excited to hear the news that the bird ban was lifted,” said Jeff Barr, one of the directors on the Greene County Fair Board. “Our poultry committee last year did an excellent job of turning it into an excellent learning experience for the kids. … But having the live birds, it’s always fun for the kids to have that live bird to present at the fair instead of just the poster.”
After state officials announced the ban last summer, the Greene County Fair Board implemented a system in which students who had planned to exhibit at the fair would instead show a poster to represent their bird. The lifting of the ban will bring the animals back to the fair.
The ban, which was originally put in place June 2, 2015, was designed to protect against the spread of avian flu through exhibitions and sales in the state. No cases of the flu have been confirmed in Ohio, and the move was made as a preventative measure to protect one of the state’s major agriculture businesses, while the disease raced through avian populations in states like Iowa and Minnesota.
According to numbers from the ODA, throughout the spring and summer of 2015, more than 48 million birds were affected throughout the country.
The ODA also pointed to a Nov. 18 report from the World Organization for Animal Health which declared that all avian flu outbreaks in all affected states are now closed and resolved, which makes the U.S. free of avian flu for the time being.
While the ban has been lifted, it could be reinstated if another outbreak occurred: “While the intention is to allow bird exhibitions to be held next year, an outbreak in Ohio or nearby states may require the reinstatement or even an extension of the ban,” the ODA noted in its release announcing the lifting of the ban.
Barr said the Greene County Fair Board will follow along with whatever ODA decides if the ban was reinstated: “We’ll keep it closely monitored to the ODA working with the fair boards on basically doing whatever’s best for all the consumers and all the poultry producers in Ohio.”