MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota 4-H is implementing an animal DNA testing requirement for South Dakota State Fair livestock competitions in the wake of an alleged cheating scandal last year.
DNA samples will be taken from 4-H members' animals during county livestock weigh-ins in the coming months, ahead of the 2013 State Fair next summer, according to The Daily Republic newspaper (http://bit.ly/QH6cKP ). All grand and reserve champions at the fair, along with division champions and reserves, will be tested to ensure their DNA matches the samples taken at county events.
The rule aims to prevent cheating and protect the integrity of 4-H competitions, said Rod Geppert, South Dakota 4-H Livestock Show Management Coordinator. 4-H organizations in several other states already require DNA testing, along with some national competitions affiliated with 4-H and also FFA, he said.
South Dakota 4-H has considered implementing DNA testing for years and a court battle stemming from a scandal last year "put us over the edge to do it," Geppert said.
Bayley Kroupa, 16, of White Lake, was banned from 4-H competition in October 2011 for allegedly showing a pig at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair that she did not take care of during the project season and that had been previously entered in a competition at the Missouri State Fair — a violation of the 4-H code of ethics.
The Kroupa family denies the accusation. Bayley's father, Greg Kroupa, sued the state 4-H office and several 4-H officials, including Geppert, alleging Bayley was denied due process and seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Judge Karen Schreier in July issued a preliminary injunction barring 4-H officials from interfering with Bayley's participation in its competitions. 4-H appealed to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in August, arguing that allowing Bayley to compete would tarnish 4-H's reputation and integrity. Schreier denied a 4-H request to suspend her injunction until the appeal is decided. Both parties submitted briefs to the appellate court last month.
"If we had this (DNA testing) in place, we could have had some checks and put the story to rest right from the get-go," Geppert said of the lawsuit.
A lot of money can ride on 4-H competitions. Bayley Kroupa showed a steer that was named grand champion of the North American International Livestock Expo in November. The steer sold for $21,000.
Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com