Peace Country Regional Meeting

Nov 16, 2018

Peace Country Regional Meeting 

The BPA hosted the 2018 Peace Country Regional Meeting in Grande Prairie on Saturday, October 20th.  The great weather was wonderful for traveling from the outlying locations many came from - but also perfect for working in the fields trying to salvage crops after the last month of wintery weather.  The field work resulted in some cancellations, but even so, there were forty-five people who attended this annual Meeting. 

Steven Lunty (Chair of the BPA) opened with a warm welcome and an Update on the happenings of the association over the last year. Vice-Chair Glenn Kjemhus (also a Director with the CBA) provided a review of the activities by the Canadian Bison Association Convention, and encouraged everyone to attend the CBA Convention / Show & Sale in Regina coming up in November.

Next up was Larry Neufeld with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) who shared their new "Next Generation Loan Program".  This new Program is focused on new entrants to farming and producers wanting to expand their operations.  It offers a maximum lending limit increased to $15 million (from $5 million), with financing for land and equipment, breeding livestock, working capital and more.   Contact your local AFSC Branch Office and speak with a Lending Product Specialist to learn more.

Neil Hochstein of Alberta Bison Ranch, BPA Director (and a Sponsor for the Peace Country Regional Meeting) announced an exciting upcoming event that will be happening in 2020.  Alberta Bison Ranch will be featuring a Reserved "Pure Plains Bison Sale".  Yes, it's a ways off yet - but something as big as this needs a good lead time for all the planning involved.  Stay tuned with the BPA E-Newsletter for details as they are confirmed, or contact Neil at 780-284-0347 for more information.

Our Keynote Speaker this year was Dr. Gary Chang with Trouw Nutrition Canada.  (Trouw Nutrition is formerly Shur Gain, which was formerly Hi-Pro Feeds - just to connect the dots.)  Dr. Chang is a Feed & Nutrition Specialist for Livestock, with a broad range of experience with bison.  His topic was "Alternate Feeds for Bison and Necessary Minerals" - a very timely topic given the varied production from Alberta's pastures and hay fields this year.  
He began first by outlining the feeding requirements for farmed bison, and then focused on the three key factors required for your feeding program : Protein and Mineral and Energy.  Dr. Chang provided detailed information on the necessity of each of these three factors, and how best to achieve them for your bison herd. Judging by the numerous questions throughout his presentation, and after, the attendees really valued Gary's extensive knowledge on this topic.

Then it was time for Lunch featuring Bison Hungarian Goulash  - and was it ever delicious!  Thank you Canadian Rangeland Bison for donating the bison meat for this tasty dish, and sponsoring the Lunch for this Regional Meeting.

Paul Kolesar was next, with a welcome from the National Bison Association in the U.S. and an update on their activities.  One of the major issues the NBA is dealing with at this time is lobbying the U.S. government to mandate explanatory labeling on Water Buffalo Meat being sold in the U.S.  Generally labelled as 'Buffalo Meat' or 'Wild Buffalo', Water Buffalo meat looks the same as other packaged red meats but is considerably cheaper - and obviously a different quality than Bison Meat.  Retailers of Water Buffalo meat are bringing it in from Australia and promoting it as 'Wild Buffalo", inferring it is more intrinsically 'healthy'.  U.S. Bison meat retailers are
being encouraged to use "BISON' in their labeling. 
Paul again noted how the fluctuation in the U.S. dollar affects the economics of bison prices, and how it needs to be closely monitored.

Steven Lunty (donning a different cap from his BPA Chair cap) gave an update on the
Marketing Trends in Europe, noting that representatives of Canadian Rangeland Bison are currently in the European Union for the SIAL Paris Food Show.  They are meeting with current customers, as well as taking the opportunity to reach out to new customers, in an effort to increase and create markets for Bison meat products.  Their goal is to generate awareness of the new CETA agreement within the EU, to increase the demand for Canadian bison meat, and to strengthen and enhance our Alberta bison industry.  
Our last presenter was Randy Nichol of Circle R Bison, located at Beaverlodge, AB.
Randy and his wife Patti had the recent experience of their bison getting out - but
through no fault of their own.  An oil company wanted access to the land at Circle R,
and met with the Nichols to draw up an agreement allowing this.  It was clearly stated
that no acces would occur without Randy or Patti at home, who would open the
necessary gates.  There was a mix-up in communication, a fence was cut, and their bison were on the loose.  It took eight days, but gratefully all the bison were rounded up and are safe at home.  Randy knows mix-ups can happen, but wanted to have producers be on guard should they be dealing with people wanting land access. 
Ending the day was the tour at H&M Meat processing facility, and it was both
interesting and informative!  Owner Robert and a staff of four were there to guide
us through all the stages of the plant and answer the numerous questions from
our group.  Thank you Robert for a most valuable tour (and for the beer and bison
snacks at the end!).   

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