The National Bison Association is urging Congress to include policies in the new Farm Bill that will foster more growth in the bison business.
It's priorities for the Farm Bill include policies regarding disaster assistance, trade, rural development, beginning farmer assistance and truth-in-labeling. The organization also requests that agricultural research priorities recognize the importance of protecting the health of the nation's bison herds.
"In general, we want to make sure that bison is included under the definition of livestock in terms of eligibility for all USDA loan, disaster, insurance and other programs," says Dave Carter, NBA executive director . This has already been done in most areas. In terms of research, though, bison is still considered as wildlife under some APHIS (Animal Health and Inspection Service) regulations, which limits that agency's ability to serve our producers."
Carter also urges Congress to include provisions that would encourage elimination of trade barriers that place bison at a disadvantage to beef in the international marketplace. In the area of rural development, the bison industry wants regulations in several loan and grant programs be adjusted to allow for the investment in projects in urban areas as long as the benefits can be demonstrated to accrue to rural producers.
"Producers working to get their product into the marketplace need to have the ability to develop marketing outlets where their customers live; in the cities," Carter says.
The bison association also recommends that the USDA Specialty Crop Program be expanded to include specialty livestock.
South Dakota and North Dakota are two of leading bison production states in the U.S. The NBA represents over 1,000 members who raise over 250,000 head of bison. The NBA has members in all 50 states and 10 countries. The NBA is a non-profit association which promotes the preservation, production, and marketing of bison. NBA activities and services serve to better inform and educate members and the general public about bison. Learn more at www.bisoncentral.com.