Ag Census reveals public role in bison restoration

National Bison Association
Farm Forum

WESTMINSTER, Colo. – The Census of Agriculture data released on April 11 illustrates the important and positive role that the American public is playing in helping ranchers to restore bison to its native rangelands and pastures across the country, according to National Bison Association Executive Director Dave Carter.

Carter’s comments came after the USDA released the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, an exercise conducted every five years.

According to the latest census, the bison population on American ranches and farms now stands at 183,780, which is a 13.3 percent increase since the 2012 census.

“The majority of the native habitat of bison is under the stewardship of individual farmers and ranchers, so restoration of the herds requires that raising bison is economically sustainable, as well as environmentally sustainable,” Carter said.

“People embracing bison meat as a part of their diet are providing the incentive for those producers to bring bison back on more acres of land. Ranchers and farmers recognize that our customers are vital partners in bison restoration,” Carter said.

According to the new Census data, the farm-gate value of bison and bison products sold in 2017 topped $120.1 million, which represented a 26.7 percent increase over 2012.

South Dakota continues to have the largest number of bison, with 30,055 head reported in 2017. The other top ten states, according to the Census, are Nebraska (28,047) Montana, (19,157), Idaho (18,634), North Dakota (12,127), Colorado (11,119), Wyoming (9,775), Kansas (5,727), New Mexico (4,942), and Oklahoma (4,162).