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    Bison Conference to Welcome New Producers

    Mentors, workshops aim to ‘grow the herd’

    Buffalo ranchers gearing up for the annual conference of the National Bison Association will encourage new producers to join their number in a campaign to grow production in response to rising consumer demand.

    “Consumers have tasted bison, and are telling us they want more,” noted Dave Carter, executive director of the Westmister, Colo.-based trade organization. “That means we need more ranchers to join us in restoring bison to rangelands and pastures across America. Our annual conference in Denver in January is a great opportunity for new producers to join us in growing the herd.”

    The event at the Mile High City’s Renaissance Hotel will kick off with a “Visit a Buffalo Mentor” session on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 19. The informal session will enable new and prospective producers to talk with old hands in the business.

    Later that same day, at a series of Turn and Learn workshops, participants will be able to select from a range of topics, among them financing, animal handling, herd health issues and marketing.

    “Newcomers can even join us on Wednesday evening, Jan. 18, for an informal meet-and-greet pre-conference reception,” said Carter, adding that the annual Gold Trophy Bison Show and Sale, slated for the National Western Stock Show in Denver on Jan. 20-21, would provide new producers with the opportunity to see and purchase some of the best bison breeding stock in the country.

    “Our professional buffalo handlers at the Stock Show love to connect with new producers and share their knowledge and insight regarding the qualities that can help build a successful bison herd,” observed Carter.

    The association is wooing new producers because the dramatic growth in consumer demand has outpaced bison meat production in the United States and Canada. Carter attributed this growing popularity to bison meat’s great taste and healthy nutritional profile.

    Information on the National Bison Association’s annual conference can be found on the group’s website. A special “Join and Go” program offers new producers a discount when they combine a conference registration and association membership. Those new members will also receive a free copy of the “Bison Producers Handbook.”

    The U.S. bison business ended 2011 in the best economic condition in its history, according to the association. "The connection that ranchers have forged with their customers is creating a strong condition for continued growth as we look forward to 2012," observed Carter.

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