August 26, 2007

This was a big weekend for county fairs – Northeast Washington Fair in Colville, Clayton Fair (2nd year and looking good!) and Lincoln County Fair. One problem faced by all of the fairs next year will be increasing regulation on animal movement and recordkeeping. I know those of us with goats, sheep and cattle are concerned about proposed animal ID and premises registration, but I was curious about the impact on the Poultry Barn. I asked the Poultry Superintendent in Davenport today about special precautions related to avian flu fears, and got a good briefing on pullorum and AI testing requirements, some reasonable and some burdensome. The record keeping requirements can present a significant barrier for small scale producers or families with small flocks of barnyard chickens, whose kids might want to enter a few birds in the fair. The bottom line from today’s conversation – this is another area where requirements have been developed without full consideration of how implementation works in the real world. What particularly irritated our superintendent today was that a group of small poultry producers had traveled to Olympia to testify when a regulatory bill was up for a vote. They waited for 2 hours, and when they were allowed in the room to testify, only 2 committee members had the courtesy to remain and listen. My point of view: (1) Developing rules and programs always needs real world input all along the process, not just technical expertise; and (2) there is no excuse for rudeness from public servants towards the public.