With a record year of profitability and stability coming to a close, bison producers are mapping out plans for continued growth in 2018 by expanding efforts to connect with consumers and bringing new producers into the fold, according to Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association.
“Six months ago, the National Bison Association and partners in the InterTribal Buffalo Council and the conservation community announced an ambitious goal to restore one million bison to North America, effectively more than doubling the size of today’s herds,” Carter said. “For bison ranchers, that means we must continue to introduce deliciously healthy bison to more people, and we must expand our production from coast to coast.”
The bison business is riding a sustained wave of profitability as sales of the meat continued to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the prices marketers paid for dressed bison bulls averaged higher than $4.80/lb. throughout 2017. Dressed prices refer to the amount paid to ranchers once the animal is harvested.
“We anticipate that prices will remain strong as demand for bison meat continues to grow,” Carter said.
Carter said that the National Bison Association is planning several programs to reach out to new producers in 2017. The association’s winter conference and live bison show and sale at the National Western Stock Show in Denver January 17-20 provide an opportunity for prospective producers to investigate the business.
“Roughly 500 ranchers will gather for the winter conference to discuss issues and share information,” Carter said. “And the association’s Gold Trophy Bison Show at the National Western Stock Show has the largest number of entries in nearly 20 years, so there’s plenty of opportunity for people to purchase great animals to build—or to start—their herds.”