State veterinarian Jeff Kaisand says the threat of African swine fever prompted the change. The disease is devastating hog production in China and it’s also infecting pigs in other Asian and some European countries.
For now, though, the official fair rules haven’t changed. Kaisand says, “Going forward, we’re going to sure review what our rules say and weigh any potential issues that we might want to change or any possibilities that we might want to put into actual rules.”
African swine fever doesn’t hurt people but could wipe out many farms and send pork prices soaring. Kaisand says all hogs will also get a vet check before being unloaded at the fair as another layer of precaution.
“They still could be infected with a disease and not showing any clinical signs, but what we’ve done is we’ve really narrowed-up that window,” he says, “to try and make sure we’re minimizing our risk as much as possible.”
The World Pork Expo, which attracts hog farmers and swine industry personnel from many infected countries, was canceled earlier this summer because of fears visitors might bring the deadly virus.
This year’s Iowa State Fair runs August 8th through the 18th.
(Reporting and photo thanks to Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)