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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Due to a national outbreak of the Avian Flu, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has made the decision to suspend all poultry shows.
In a statement, the Department said the following:
As the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or H5N2, intensifies nationwide, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is continuing efforts to minimize the risk of the disease spreading here, should it be found. As such, acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced today that the department is suspending all avian competitions at state-approved agricultural fairs in 2015, as well as the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show. In 2014, the poultry and egg industry was responsible for $13 billion in total economic activity throughout Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. With this in mind, Redding said proactive precautionary measures are necessary to protect the industry and animal health.“This is not a decision we made lightly, but it is one that we feel is necessary given the threat,” Redding said. “Across the country, 145 flocks have tested positive for this disease. This strain has killed or forced producers to euthanize 15-million birds. The effect has been devastating, and we do not want to see the same kind of impact here in Pennsylvania.”"I was just devastated because I couldn't believe; this is a huge part of our life. And to know that we weren't even going to be able to show at Farm Show was devastating," said Cathy Herdtfelder, the Franklin County 4-H Poultry Club Leader.
Herdtfelder and her daughter just re-established the Franklin County 4-H Poultry Club. There are 13 members. The Franklin County Fair was suppose to be their inaugural show.
Instead of just canceling they decided to host a picture show. They spent Sunday setting it up. It looked exactly like a regular show, but the birds were replaced with photos. The kids will not be able to be judged so, people can vote for their favorite bird by donations.
The money can then go to World Vision. Depending on what they raise, they will be able to buy ducks, chickens and even turkeys.The birds multiple. They sell the birds they get money. They get food. They get eggs and one family can benefit from half a dozen chickens. It's incredible," said Herdtfelder.She says, in the end, the suspension provided an opportunity for an even better lesson.