Outlook: The Future of the Buffalo Business
Bison today stands at a pinnacle of respect and recognition.
The American public is increasingly embracing the great taste, and nutritional attributes of deliciously healthy bison meat. People are increasingly recognizing the role bison are playing in restoring healthy landscapes across North America. And, bison producers are enjoying an unprecedented period of strength, stability and profitability.
It was only fitting that the American Congress and President Obama enthusiastically established bison as the National Mammal of the United States in 2016.
Yes, the bison business seemed to be booming a couple of decades ago. As any veteran buffalo producer will attest, the strong prices of the 1990’s were based nearly solely on the competition among ranchers to build production herds. We hadn’t yet introduced the public to the incredible attributes of this magnificent animal.
We learned a painful lesson 15 years ago about the risk of leaving consumers out of the equation as we work to build the business. Since then, the National Bison Association and individual marketers have worked tirelessly to establish a relationship with the public based upon the attributes of premium taste, quality nutrition, responsible husbandry and ecological sustainability.
The growing demand for bison meat has propelled prices producers receive for market-ready animals to historic highs. The prices that ranchers received on a young bull carcass approached $4.50/lb. as 2015 came to a close. That’s good news. Better news is that those prices have been strong and steady for the past five years.
Establishing a strong relationship with our customers has been hard work. Maintaining that relationship will require nothing less. Shoppers are flocking to bison because they love the taste of the meat, and they feel good about eating an all-natural product produced by producers with a deep respect for the environment and the animals.
That is why the National Bison Association continues to work in multiple arenas to represent our members.
We have partnered with chefs, food enthusiasts, conservationists, tribal leaders and others to continue to bring bison back to the range lands and super tables of our nation. We developed new marketing materials to help individual marketers tell our story to the public. And, we helped the public locate bison meat through our BisonFinder App (currently under construction) and on-line Where to Buy site.
We continue to develop new resources for ranchers and marketers to improve their professional capabilities as well. With resources provided from the North Central SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education), and from USDA’s Risk Management Agency, we have developed valuable new resources for producers and prospective producers. Among those new resources is the 2nd edition Bison Produces’ Handbook, with a wealth of new information.
Meanwhile, we are expanding our presence in Washington, D.C., and in other public policy arenas. We continue to work with federal agencies to identify common ground among private producers and public herd managers. And, the NBA now operates with a historic Memorandum of Agreement with the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council identifying key areas of collaboration.
This 2017 annual report summarizes the key accomplishments of the NBA over the past year. Also, see our Bullish on Bison report, which highlights the many economic indicators that show a bright future for the bison business. Please also see a North American statement on the bison industry here, and the Bison1Million effort to restore 1 million bison to North America!
Our future success will require even more attention to consumer promotion, producer recruitment, and public policy involvement. The National Bison Association is the voice of the American buffalo producers. Your membership commitment helps keep that voice strong on your behalf.