Dangers posed by the African Swine Fever have brought changes to the market hog competition at this year's Solanco Fair.
In years past, contestants who brought pigs that were either not heavy enough or too heavy to compete were allowed to take those hogs home.
That won't be possible this year, said John Groff, co-chair of the committee overseeing the swine competition.
"If a hog is brought to the fair, it's not allowed to return to the farm so it doesn't bring anything [disease] back with it," Groff said. A state quarantine requires hogs brought to a fair must go from there to slaughter.
That means hogs that weigh less than 220 pounds or over 280 will go directly to slaughterhouse receiving station in Fivepointville. In the past, an underweight hog could have been taken back to the farm, fattened, and exhibited at a later fair.
"That happened with less than 10 percent of the hogs brought to the fair," Groff said.
Nor can families buy hogs back during the Friday night sale and return them to the farm.
"Any hog that's bought at the fair has to go to a registered butcher," Groff said.
The new rules are required under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's swine quarantine order issued earlier this summer.
The quarantine keeps hogs from returning to their farms after that they have mingled with animals from other farms. It is an attempt to forestall any spread of African Swine Fever, a highly contagious and deadly viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs. There is no immunization against the disease and no cure for it.
So far, that specific strain of swine fever has spread in Africa, China and other parts of southeast Asia, and into some European countries. There are no records of it occurring in the United States or Canada.
While it spreads quickly among hogs, it cannot be transferred to humans, agricultural officials said.
The quarantine is in addition to other health regulations the swine must meet. Each hog has to be registered with an ID tag issued by a veterinarian. The hog must have been evaluated by a veterinarian no more than 30 days before it is brought to the fair and must have been on the exhibitor's farm at least 70 days before the fair.
All owners will be paid for their hogs, even if they go to slaughter before they can be exhibited.
"We will put tags on them at the fair so the kids will get paid accordingly," Groff said.