From The Prairie To Your Plate

Monday, February 21, 2011 - 8:07am

Demand for bison meat skyrockets.

John Flocchini has one of the nation's largest bison herds, a business his family has been in since the 1960s.

Fifty years in, the family business is finally paying off in a big way.

"There's good money in it now," Flocchini says.

Bison meat is selling for seven dollars a pound, two bucks more than a year ago, even more than beef.

This niche market can't provide enough supply to meet it's meat demand.

"We could easily be marketing 30 percent more than what's being marketed," Flocchini says.

Bison meat is leaner than beef, with no hormones.

While live animals are more expensive to buy, they're cheaper to feed.

Very little grain is used.

Its market is just a fraction of what beef is, but prices are holding up and the industry is trying to recruit more ranchers to increase supply.

Still, some fear that with inflation, the bison industry setting itself up for the kind of collapse it took in the late 1990s.

Others believe there's plenty of room to expand.

The total number of bison sent to slaughter last year didn't even match a single day for cattle, and with beef exports way up, sending beef prices higher, buffalo burgers may start to look less expensive in comparison.

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