Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

May 31, 2016

State Agriculture Commissioner Lifts Ban on Poultry Competitions and Exhibits at Fairs Throughout New York State

Live Fowl Competitions Return As Threat of Avian Flu Diminishes

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced the end of the ban on all live fowl competitions and exhibits at the Great New York State Fair and at all county fairs in New York.  The Department had issued the ban in May 2015 to prevent the spread of strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which killed millions of birds across the country in 2014-2015 and was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as being the worst outbreak of HPAI in U.S. history.  
“New York took an aggressive approach to preventing the spread of avian influenza and it paid off,” said Commissioner Ball. “I am very proud to say that thanks to the cooperation of farmers, suppliers, distributors, and live bird markets, as well as the hard work of the Department’s Division of Animal Industry, the outbreak did not affect a single bird in the state and we look forward to their return at fairs this summer.”
“Lifting this ban was possible due to the efforts of the poultry industry, here in New York and throughout the U.S., to stop the spread of HPAI and to improve biosecurity practices.  We are indebted to state and federal animal health officials who contained HPAI in the Midwest,” said State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith. “While we are confident the threat has diminished and bird competitions can resume, it’s important to note that the virus causing HPAI may arise any time, so our producers must remain vigilant and continue to adhere to the best practices for preventing the spread of this disease.”
The Great New York State Fair is currently accepting entries for its poultry competitions and exhibits.  Exhibitors can register their animals here.  In 2014, approximately 1,200 poultry and pigeons were brought to the Fair for various competitions and exhibits.  The ban has also been lifted for all chartered county fairs and youth fairs in New York State.  There are 45 county fairs and six youth shows for the fair season, which runs from June through October. 

The first poultry show to be held at the New York State Fairgrounds since the ban has been lifted, the Finger Lakes Feather Club Poultry Show, will take place on Sunday, June 5. For additional information, please visit the Great New York State Fair website at

“Our fairgoers and our exhibitors look forward to these competitions every year and we are excited to bring them back. They are not only fun, but also an important educational opportunity for thousands of Fair visitors each year,” said Troy Waffner, Acting New York State Fair Director.
Andy Imperati, President of the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs said, “All of New York State’s fairs wholeheartedly supported the efforts of the Commissioner’s office in taking a proactive approach to the avian flu issue.  We are all very happy to once again be able to reinstate our live fowl shows and competitions at all of our fairs this summer.  We take every effort to make our fairgrounds safe not only for our patrons, but our livestock as well.”
Because of the potential threat of HPAI to New York’s poultry industry, the Department took the following steps to prevent its spread in New York State: 
  • Took part in an emergency preparedness exercise to ensure a coordinated response to protect New York’s poultry industry;
  • Announced new regulations restricting the movement of poultry into New York;
  • Released several fact sheets to provide information on best practices farmers and visitors can use to avoid carrying the virus into or out of farms; and
  • New York joined several states in banning poultry competitions and exhibitions at fairs.
In addition, the Department continues to routinely test poultry in live bird markets for avian influenza. In 2015, approximately 35,000 birds in the New York live bird marketing system were tested for the disease. 
Avian influenza outbreaks are not uncommon, but last year’s occurrence was particularly deadly to fowl.  It affected nearly 50 million birds on more than 200 commercial farms in 15 states and in wild birds in five additional states in the West, Midwest and South, and two Canadian provinces. No cases associated with the outbreak were reported in New York.  Experts stress that the HPAI strains seen in recent years do not threaten human health.
For more information, please visit the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets website at

2016 Press Releases