Bison Ranchers Corral D.C. Policymakers on Labeling, Trade, Research
More than 35 Meetings Held during Three Day Stampede
Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2018) – A delegation of 18 bison ranchers from 11 states headed home today after a stampeding across the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Capitol Hill for two days this week to discuss truth-in-labeling, herd health research, trade, and farm bill priorities.
The ranchers conducted more than 35 meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and headed home with several commitment s for continued policy initiatives to support the growth and profitability of the bison business.
Among the items discussed were steps to improve truth in labeling, research to help address bison herd health issues, improved market news collection, and farm bill programs to support the ability of new producers to enter the business.
“This was an extremely productive week for the bison business,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “We came to town is a long list of priority issues and found a receptive audience in nearly every meeting.
Truth in labeling topped the bison association’s priority list this week. That issue moved to the forefront after some retailers have in the U.S. have started carrying ground imported water buffalo meat simply labeled as “Wild Buffalo – Free Range.”
“There’s no doubt that the customers buying these products believe they are buying American bison. That’s simply not true,” Carter said.
The ranchers met jointly with officials from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration to discuss steps to enforce honest labeling. Carter noted that the water buffalo meat now in the marketplace is using a regulatory loophole that allows it to come into the marketplace without USDA or state-equivalent inspection. The FDA, however, does have authority to enforce penalties against companies that market misbranded products.
We talked about the importance of immediate action to stop current practices, and the need for potential longer-term solutions,” Carter said.
In separate meetings with the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the National Academy of Science and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the bison delegation discussed a variety of research and disease assessment priorities needed to support the health of the North American bison herd.
The group also met with representatives of the Agricultural Marketing Service to discuss ideas for developing expanded price reporting within the bison business.
On Capitol Hill, the ranchers discussed their key priorities in the Farm Bill discussions now underway in the Senate-House Conference Committee.
“We were met with widespread support for our priorities,” Carter said.