US state, county fairs ban ractopamine in pigs

State and county fairs in the U.S. have begun banning the use of ractopamine in pigs sold at their shows.

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Animals sold at fair shows may end up in international markets that ban the drug

State and county fairs in the U.S. have begun banning the use of ractopamine in pigs sold at their shows.

Ractopamine is approved for use in pigs and beef cattle in the U.S., but is banned in many international markets, including China and the EU. The drug increases animals’ weight gain and feed efficiency, and they end up using 10-20% less feed or water to reach final weight gain.

Animals sold at shows at state and county fairs could end up in international markets, so producers are being told not to use the drug.

“It is absolutely a market access decision,” said Steven Moeller, swine extension specialist with Ohio State University, in a report. “Our goal is to put the pigs into the standard market for pigs in the U.S., the standard commercial market, at a value that represents the same type of pork and the quality of pork and the safety of pork that we expect from every producer in the country.”

In October 2019, JBS USA and Tyson announced that they would ban the use of ractopamine in their hogs, and Smithfield Foods, which is owned by China-based WH Group, does not use ractopamine in pigs raised on its company-owned and contract farms.

JBS USA pork has made the decision to eliminate ractopamine from its supply chain to maximize export opportunities,” a company spokesman said at the time of the company’s announcement. “The company previously removed ractopamine from its internal live pork production systems in August 2018” and will now prohibit its use in hogs produced by other farmers that sell to JBS.

Tyson also cited export opportunities in its announcement.

“We believe the move to prohibit ractopamine use will allow Tyson Fresh Meats and the farmers who supply us to compete more effectively for export opportunities in even more countries,” said Steve Stouffer, president, Tyson Fresh Meats, in a press release in October.

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