Bison! It’s What’s for Dinner

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday announced $1.3 million in grants to 21 states to promote agriculture market research ranging from grading goats to pushing prawns.

While all of the grants were relatively small, averaging about $50,000 per state, Colorado got the tail end of the bull when it comes to federal support.According to the USDA press release the Colorado Department of Agriculture was awarded $58,000 to “develop an effective prototype marketing and promotion campaign for bison meat that can be replicated in other similar demographically favorable markets” in cooperation with the National Bison Association and Colorado State University.

Hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s, bison kills were part blood sport and catalyst to drive Native Americans out of the areas in order for white folk to land grab for the extractive industries and expand settler territories.

In the last 100 years, bison have made a comeback of sorts in national parks with an estimated 20,000 animals roaming across Yellowstone, Montana’s National Bison Refuge, and in Canada. Another 500,000 bison are herded by private ranchers in North America, with about half in the U.S.

Long admired for their majestic grazing on the grassy plains, they’re now coveted for their extra lean meat by health-conscious consumers. In 2004, the National Bison Association reports that 30,000 head were slaughtered under federal inspection for food processing, more than double the figure in 2000.

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