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Bison at Forefront of Eco-Marketing at Expo West

Natural Products Expo West, the nation’s largest trade show for natural and organic products taking place in California this week, is a cacophony of competing marketing claims.

The nearly 80,000 retailers, product buyers, marketers and others wandering through the 3,000 exhibits packed inside Anaheim Convention Center are steadily bombarded with claims regarding “no GMOs,” “Gluten Free,” “Humanely Raised,” and more.

The ecological impact of food production is a major theme woven throughout this trade show and the accompanying educational sessions. No fewer than four major workshops and seminars focused on regenerative agriculture. In the exhibit halls, many products that have traditionally sported the USDA Organic certification logo, are now adding an additional “Regenerative Organic Certification” label.

Of course, there are a number of relatively new exhibitors promoting their brand of meat-tasting whatever that is made from pea protein, soy, or even lab-grown cells. These booths universally had banners and signs claiming their products as eco-friendly. These were generally simple phrases like “clean protein,” “better for the environment,” and so on.

That’s why I found it interesting that the primary exhibitors at Expo providing in-depth information about how their products benefited the environment were companies that sell meat…specifically, bison.

One booth by Native American Natural Foods, makers of Tanka Bar, had a photograph of a bison. Arrows pointed to the hoofs, hair and other features, with text explaining how each of those features promoted healthy soils and biodiversity. In another aisle, Patagonia Provisions had a film loop informing attendees about the ecological benefits of bison, wild-caught salmon, and other sustainably raised proteins. Sill elsewhere, the people staffing EPIC Provisions booth liberally handed out both a brief pamphlet as well as a 112-page Impact Journal with information on the commitment ranchers have to the environment.

In the main exhibit hall, EPIC’s parent company, General Mills, hosted a booth largely devoted to their initiative to bring 1 million acres of land into regenerative production. That booth had a high-end version of the rainfall soil erosion simulator that many of us saw at NBA’s last summer conference, and at various USDA NRCS workshops through the years. The point of that simulator: healthy grasslands are vital to stopping soil erosion.

While it is a bit unsettling to see some companies making unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of their products, it was heartening to see the commitment that many of our marketers are making to providing real, in-depth information.

Keep up the good work.

 


Reason, Not Rhetoric Needed in Green Discussion

I’m deeply immersed in public policy but do my best to steer clear of politics. After all, the National Bison Association has cultivated strong personal relationships during the past two decades with leaders on both sides of the political aisle. Bison is our National Mammal because Republicans and Democrats in Congress worked together over a four-year period. More recently, three Democratic and two Republican Senators sent a joint letter to USDA and FDA urging support for honest labeling of water buffalo in the marketplace.

Just as important, liberals and conservatives alike across the country have embraced the great taste and nutritional benefits of bison.

So, it’s with a bit of trepidation that I even mention three words generating a firestorm across the country: Green New Deal.

In barely a month, this phrase has emerged as a political lightning rod, with politicians, pundits and others speculating whether ice cream and hamburgers will disappear as flatulating cows are outlawed under a tidal wave of sweeping new laws and regulations.

Please: let’s not hunker down in silos of hardened opinions. An open, honest discussion about our role in climate change should be welcomed among the agriculture community. Rather than girding ourselves to argue over farting cows, let’s educate the public on the environmental benefits of bison and other grazing animals.

Bison ranchers are well positioned to stand at the forefront of that effort.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, grasslands comprise nearly 40 percent of the earth’s landmass. Closer to home, grasslands dominate most areas west of the Mississippi River, stretching from northern Mexico to the Yukon Flats. Those grasslands are  North America’s version of the Amazon Rain Forest, where  native vegetation filters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and returns it to the soil.

Bison ranchers know that grasslands collapse without grazing ruminants. Our herds rebuild soil and provide wildlife habitat and open space, in addition to addressing the CO2 equation.

New scientific research is providing clear evidence that petri-dish grown fake meat comes with heavy environmental baggage. One study published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems  last month documents the amount of energy required to produce meat-tasting protein in the laboratory. 

With a blizzard of misinformation and fear swirling around the discussions of climate and the environment, it’s time to take a lesson from our herds: Keep our heads down and face the storm.

Reason, not rhetoric, is on our side. Let’s sit down to discuss our commitment to environmental stewardship with anyone willing to listen. I’ll even buy the bison burger and ice cream sundae while we talk.


Pooches Hungry for Bison?

Pooches Hungry for Bison? New Website Lists Honestly Labeled Dog Food Brands

Site Helps Customers Avoid Products with Mislabeled Water Buffalo

WESTMINSTER, CO (March 1, 2019) – The National Bison Association today launched a new website to help pet owners to select brands made with authentic North American bison, and to avoid deceptively labeled products made with water buffalo labeled only as “buffalo.” Visit the site at https://bisoncentral.com/buying-bison-pet-products/.

“As more people discover the great taste and nutritional benefits of bison, they are bringing it to the table for all members of their family, including their companion animals,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “Our new site, entitled Sniffing Out the Best Bison Brands for Your Companion Animal, will help pet parents find products in the marketplace containing authentic North American Bison.”

The National Bison Association developed the new website after some companies have refused to fully label or disclose that the “buffalo” in their brands is actually imported water buffalo.

“Several pet food brands have worked with ranchers in recent years to develop products containing authentic North American bison. Many of those products list the ingredient as either bison or buffalo. Unfortunately, other brands are deceiving their customers by simply labeling their products as “buffalo” when in fact, they are using water buffalo, not North American bison. We want to help consumers make an informed choice.”

The National Bison Association is working with pet food regulators to propose new rules that would require an ingredient currently labeled as buffalo to by fully labeled as either American buffalo or water buffalo. Finalizing any regulatory change, however, is a long-term process.

“We want the public to be able to buy honestly labeled products with full confidence that they are providing their companion animals with the best bison products available,” Carter said.

Click here to access the Sniffing out the Best Bison Brands for Your Companion Animal.

Editors: To receive additional information on mislabeled water buffalo ingredients in pet food, please contact Dave Carter at david@bisoncentral.com or at 303.594.4420.


Deadline to Enter the DTBA Girlz Gone Wild and Young Guns Challenge


Bid Deadline for Elk Island National Park’s 98 Plains Bison

Please be advised that Elk Island National Park of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta is selling 98 PLAINS bison Calves, Yearlings and OTM Bulls by tender. Please see attached document which includes detailed information on the Plains bison for sale on behalf of Elk Island National Park (EINP). Refer to this document when preparing your tender. At the discretion of ElNP, the 98 Plains Bison have been divided into groups referred to as “Lots”. These Lots coincide with the Pens the bison are split into. Please consider placing bids on each OR all Lot(s) as desired. Any or All Lots may or may not sell to the same bidder.

See bidding instructions the full list of offerings, including age, weight and lot #s, here.

For more information or questions please contact Brendan Kramer at 306.445.5000 (office) or 306.441.6519 (cell).

NOTE: Please see Animal Information Sheet for Tag #’s, Age, Gender, Weights, and “Lot #’s” the bison are offered in. The groups in each “Lot” consist of a variety of calves & yearlings (bulls & heifers), and a few “Lots” of older bulls.

Total numbers for each age and each gender of Plains bison for sale include the following:
– 31 – 2018 Bulls
– 25 – 2018 Heifers
– 18 – 2017 Bulls
– 19 – 2017 Heifers
– 2 – 2.5 yr Bulls
– 2 – 3.5 yr Bulls
– 1 – 4.5 yr Bull

Viewing Dates: Monday February 25, Tuesday February 26 and Wednesday February 27 from 11:00AM – 2:00PM Alberta time, at Elk Island National Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. To arrange viewing, please contact Rob Found at 780-266-5963 (cell) or at rob.found@canada.ca


Health Extension® Little Bites™ Grain Free Buffalo & whitefish Recipe

Health Extension’s website notes, “Knowing where the ingredients in your pet food comes from is important.” And, they include a clickable map of the United States so that users can see where those ingredients originate. When clicking on buffalo, a pop-up box appears with the words: India. A+ of full disclosure on the website, but not on the product label.


I&love&You® Naked Essentials™ Lamb + Bison


Rachael Ray Nutrish® Zero Grain Beef, Potato & Bison Recipe™

Rachael Ray is a high-end pet food brand. The website for this product notes, “Real bison raised on U.S. farms is a lean, nutrient-dense protein that contains essential amino acids to help support healthy muscle mass. Plus, it’s easily digestible and isn’t often used in dog food, which may make it less likely to aggravate food sensitivities.”


Natural Balance® Limited Ingredient Diets® Sweet Potato & Bison Dry Dog

Bison is the No. 2 Ingredient in this recipe. Natural Balance was founded by Dick Van Patton as a brand that uses high quality ingredients. He even used to eat the food to demonstrate its quality.


Solid Gold® Wolf King™ Bison and Brown Rice Recipe with Sweet Potatoes