News in the Buff(alo) World
Information gathered and courtesy of:
National Bison Association; Westminster, CO
NBA Forum Active, Needs More Participation
The new NBA Forum is up and running, and is now getting some great new posts. Please be sure to check it out and share your expertise by following this link: http://www.bisoncentral.com/forum
There are currently topics seeking input on hyper-salivation, trailer options for bison, Bermuda grass and stump removal. If you have anything to share, or have other questions, please be sure to log on and share.
IBC to Offer Smorgasbord of Information, Activities
There is no shortage of valuable information or fun activities awaiting the producers and marketers attending the 2012 International Bison Conference in Quebec July 24-28, 2012.
During the morning workshops set for July 25-27, attendees will learn about the progress of the bison genome mapping project, received information about a variety of bison herd health issues, hear from noted chefs from North American and Europe, delve into the archeological history of the mammal, and learn about new ranching opportunities.
Our business is growing and evolving very quickly," said Dave Carter, executive director of the national bison Association "A lot of new information and knowledge has emerged over the past five years. The IBC Offers a front-row seat on picking up the new information that can help producers and marketers continue to build their business."
Everyone is encouraged to log onto www.bison2012.com prior to April 30 to take advantage of the early-registration discounts for the IBC. Registration under the early-bird program is $390 for the first participant, $240 for spouse, and $50 for children. There is a special daily rate available for students.
The registration includes:
- Access to all conference sessions
- Three conference breakfasts
- The Taste of Quebec Banquet on July 26.
- A dinner cruise on the St. Laurent River aboard the Lois Joliet; and
- Transportation to all activities
There is a wealth of pre- and post-conference activities as well.
"This is a real opportunity for families to blend an once-in-a-lifetime vacation with a unique educational experience," Carter said.
Bison Not covered by new Meat Labeling Rule
Because of the manner in which bison are classified under federal law, bison meat products are not included in the single-ingredient labeling requirements implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspections Service earlier this month.
The new labeling regulations were enacted under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which covers meat from amenable species of animals such as cattle, hogs, and lamb. As a non-amenable species, rules for handling bison under USDA rules are administered under the Agricultural Marketing Act.
The regulation requires nutrition information for 40 of the most popular cuts of single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products be available directly on product labels or at the point of purchase
Since the new rules were implemented, the National Bison Association has received several calls requesting clarification on the applicability of the regulations on buffalo. NBA Executive Director contacted the Deputy Administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to receive confirmation that the new regulations apply only to products from amenable species.
Marketers needing information to supply to retailers about the handling of bison under the new regulation can contact NBA Director Dave Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a copy of the communication received from Mr. Derfler on that topic.
Bison Herd Changes Northwestern Indiana Farm Landscape
(From The Republic)
Despite its arterial highways and large housing developments like Shorewood Forest and Salt Creek Commons, it's still not that unusual to see rare birds in the skies and deer roaming through backyards in Union Township.
Seeing a buffalo along the side of the road, though, can be quite jarring at first.
"The first time we put them in the field, it created a traffic jam on this county road," Bud Koeppen said.
Koeppen and his family own the Broken Wagon Bison Farm on County Road 450 North, just south of Wheeler, a village settled in the 1850s as a stop along the former Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway.
The Koeppen family has been farming its acreage since 1932. The working farm is now being managed by the third generation, which started raising bison in 2003.
"We were always just grain farmers," Koeppen said.
That changed after he and his wife got a Christmas card from a longtime friend saying he was retiring to raise bison. That piqued Koeppen's interest.
"I didn't know of anybody around here who was raising them," he said.
Yellowstone Bison Really Two Distinct Populations
The American Bison is an iconic species that conjures up visions of the wide-open prairies characteristic of the Wild West. The spirit of this amazing animal lives on at Yellowstone National Park, home to one of the few populations of bison known to have continually persisted on their current landscape since Pre-Columbian times.
The numbers of bison in the Yellowstone herd has fluctuated from less than 100 individuals to more than 3000, but even more amazing than the growing numbers are the genetic secrets these gentle giants continue to reveal about their past that will help to determine their future.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and their collaborators presented in the most recent issue of the Journal of Heredity has highlighted the use of modern biotechnology to better understand the natural forces that influence wildlife populations.
"In the course of conducting conservation genetics studies of the Yellowstone herd, we discovered that the herd is really separated into two distinct subpopulations," said James Derr, professor in the veterinary pathobiology department at the CVM. "These two subpopulations have shown genetic differentiation usually seen in populations that have been geographically separated for more than 40 years. In addition, we were also able to identify critical differences in migration patterns between the two subpopulations."
Full text: http://tinyurl.com/6p2decq
Conservation Loan Funding Loan Guarantees Available
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency this week announced the availability of funding to guarantee conservation loans issued through private lenders.
The Conservation Loan program is designed to assist ranchers and farmers-including bison producers-to implement a conservation practice approved by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS), such as to reducing soil erosion, improving water quality and promoting sustainable and organic agricultural practices.
Eligible activities include installation of conservation structures; establishment of forest cover; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; transitioning to organic production; manure management, including manure digestion systems; adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques or technologies.
Unlike FSA's traditional farm ownership and operating loan programs that are targeted toward smaller and less financially established farmers, eligibility requirements are expanded to permit the agency to provide assistance to some applicants who may be large and financially strong.
The program is designed to have both a direct loan and a loan guarantee component. However, funding has not been authorized to implement the direct loan program. Potential guaranteed loan applicants should contact their lender, or their local FSA office for more information.
Interested applicants who do not already have NRCS-approved conservation plans should work with the local NRCS staff to develop a conservation plan, including all applicable conservation practices. New or existing conservation plans must be NRCS approved before FSA can provide financing.
Vilsack Adds Voice For Farm Bill
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the American people are tired of hearing excuses from Congress about its lack of action on the nation's problems and called for speedy passage of a farm bill this year.
Speaking at the Commodity Classic in Nashville, Vilsack got an enthusiastic response when he repeated support for biofuels and offered new ideas for helping beginning farmers.
Vilsack later told reporters that he's more optimistic now than he was earlier this year that the agriculture committees will finish a farm bill this year.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has announced earlier hearings on the farm bill, including a March 14 session on the commodity title and crop insurance. And House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas this week announced a series of field hearings on the farm bill.
Vilsack said he respects Lucas and noted that in the House, the ag committee can't write farm legislation until it gets numbers from the Budget Committee. Last year it proposed $48 billion in cuts, Vilsack said.
"I think the agriculture committees are bipartisan and they can get the work done," Vilsack said. He's less certain about whether the leadership in Congress will support passage of a farm bill.
Full text: http://www.agriculture.com/news/policy/vilsack-adds-voice-f-farm-bill_4-ar22629
MN Animal Health Board Asks Producers to Help Increase Traceability
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health would like producers to increase animal traceability. They want producers to consider attaching official ID ear tags to cattle and bison.
Official identification is an ear tag approved by the USDA that displays a nationally unique number for each individual animal.
This unique number provides the Minnesota Board of Animal Health with a quick way to track animals in a disease investigation.
There are two options for producers wanting to tag their cattle with official identification -- metal ear tags and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ear tags.
The Board will supply these USDA metal ear tags to producers who want to officially tag their own cattle. Cattle and bison producers who want to receive the tags should call the Board's office at 651-296-2942.
The 840 RFID and non-RFID tag is also acceptable and available as a button or bangle tag. Producers need a premise number to purchase these tags, available from various tag companies. The Board will not provide 804 tags.
"We will soon be making (metal) tags available to producers upon request," said Dr. Randy Lindemann, Minnesota Board of Animal Health district veterinarian, speaking at the University of Minnesota Beef Cow/Calf meeting in Glenwood.
"Once we have sent the tags out, our plan is to have one of the district veterinarians stop and visit with the producer about how to apply the tags, how to keep the records, and what we expect."
Under the direction of State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Hartmann, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health is guiding the cattle industry towards a self-monitored ID system.
Full text: http://tinyurl.com/7lzebp2
Agencies Stick To Plan to Let Bison Roam Gardiner Basin
(From the Bozeman Chronicle)
A set of agencies intends to stick with its plans to allow bison to roam north of Yellowstone National Park, according to a document released last week.
The agencies initially agreed to expand bison tolerance zones in that area last spring. After conducting an analysis and responding to public comments, the agencies recently confirmed that decision.
An environmental assessment was released in December that outlined the options for expanding the tolerance zones or keeping them the same. It examined potential impacts the expansion would have on people and the environment.
The public had about a month to respond to the assessment, and more than 5,400 comments were submitted. About 97 percent of them came as form letters from four Montana-based organizations and were submitted from in and outside the state, as well as internationally.
Based on the comments and analysis, the agencies decided to approve the larger tolerance zones.
The effort to add more roaming room for bison has been controversial.
Conservationists, stockgrowers and others have filed suit to settle disputes over whether bison should be allowed in the Gardiner Basin north of the park.
Some fear that allowing bison in the basin could lead to the spread of brucellosis, property damage or human safety risks. Others argue that bison are wild animals that need more space for migration.
In harsh winters, the animals typically leave the park to search for lower, less snowy grounds and food. Once outside the park, though, the animals have been subject to slaughter, hunting, hazing and capture.
Mark Pearson, national parks program director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said the confirmed decision on habitat expansion was "a good step forward."
"It opens up the possibility of bison using thousands of acres of public land previously off limits to them," he said in a phone interview. "It enhances the status of bison as a wild, free-roaming valued wildlife species in Montana."
Jake Cummins, executive vice president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, said he was disappointed in the decision.
"We have said all along that that expansion is problematic for numerous reasons. It creates a risk to property, human health, and of contamination of animals from infected bison," he said. "It would appear that there is no compromise in this matter and that's unfortunate."
The groups Pearson and Cummins represent are both involved in the ongoing litigation surrounding the bison habitat expansion.
A hearing for the matter was scheduled last week, but it was rescheduled for August.
The agencies overseeing bison management include Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, the state Department of Livestock, the U.S. Forest Service, tribal groups and other state and federal entities.
EPA Solicits Members for Agricultural Advisory Committee
Continuing its efforts to forge a strong partnership with the agricultural community, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently soliciting nominations for its independent agricultural advisory group, the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC).
"The FRRCC provides an excellent forum for EPA to engage with a diverse range of agricultural stakeholders to deal with complex environmental issues that are important to agriculture," said Lawrence Elworth, agricultural counselor to the EPA administrator. "We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the committee on agriculture and environmental issues."
A Federal Register notice published on February 13, 2012, solicited nominations for new members on the committee. The committee's charter was renewed and filed with Congress on February 17, 2012, and will be effective for two more years.
EPA established the FRRCC in 2008 to provide advice, information, and recommendations to the administrator on a broad range of environmental issues of importance to agriculture and rural communities.
The committee meets twice yearly, and consists of approximately25 members representing academia, industry (e.g., farm groups and allied industries), non-governmental organizations, and state, local, and tribal governments.
More information about the FRRCC: http://epa.gov/ofacmo/frrcc/index.html
Did you know?
Buffalo is sometimes called "America's Original Red Meat" because it was the primary meat source to many of the Plains Indians until millions of the buffalo were slaughtered back in the late 1800's and they nearly became extinct. Now they are being farm raised on private ranches and the numbers are back up to about one-half of a million. Whether grass fed or grain finished, buffalo meat has a rich flavor you will enjoy.