A Strong, Growing Business

North America’s bison ranchers and marketers have worked hard during the past two decades to establish a unique, strong and profitable position in the American marketplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic, persistent drought, and challenges created by Mycoplasma bovis have created significant short-term disruption for the bison business. Yet, the long-term outlook is extremely bright.

Over the past few decades, a growing segment of the public began embracing bison meat because of its great taste and nutritional benefits, and because bison help to restore grassland ecosystems across North America. As the pandemic revealed the flaws in our nation’s concentrated food processing system, the number of people seeking healthy, locally produced and environmentally friendly food accelerated.

Today, we are a viable alternative sector in the agricultural economy, and a growing part of the good food movement.

Last year, the National Bison Association launched several consumer outreach initiatives, including sponsorships in three regional barbecue festivals and the World Food Championship in Dallas. This year we are stepping up our outreach, with a larger sponsorship of the World Food Championship, innovative Earth Day promotions, and new emphasis on social media.

The relationships that the National Bison Association has built with key leaders within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies continues to benefit ranchers across the country. In January 2022, for example, Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux reversed the agency’s longstanding position and declared that bison Mycoplasma bovis deaths could be eligible for coverage under the agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has requested the NBA’s input in hiring a new research specialist for Mycoplasma and is nearing development of a vaccine for another threat to bison: Malignant Catarrhal Fever.

Other sectors within USDA are working with the NBA to put bison meat into more food distribution programs, including the National School lunch program, and to pen new export markets for bison meat.

The Center of Excellence for Bison Studies, established in 2020 within the South Dakota State University system, is bringing together researchers and academicians from across the country with projects to improve the ability of bison producers to manage healthy herds and produce healthy meat.

A formal memorandum of understanding established among the National Bison Association and the InterTribal Buffalo Council in 2014 continues to unite our respective organizations in a common commitment to the success of private and Tribal producers. The NBA and ITBC met in January 2022 to update and expand that important MOU.

The NBA’s strong working relationship with the Canadian Bison Association assures that bison producers on both sides of the 49th Parallel are working together for the betterment of our business.

These partnerships are all helping to restore bison to their historic habitat across North America.

Continued growth will require even more attention to consumer promotion, producer recruitment, and public policy involvement. The National Bison Association is the voice of American bison producers. Your membership commitment ensures your strong voice strong on issues of importance.