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About the CBA

The Canadian Bison Association (CBA) is a non-profit organization which was established to represent the interests of the bison industry.

The Canadian Bison Association is responsible for providing guidance on a number of issues including: marketing, animal health, research, animal identification, government liaison, trade, traceability, the bison registry, conservation and other developmental initiatives.

There are six active regional associations representing Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC- each having the ability to appoint two directors to the CBA board with Alberta able to appoint three directors. The National Bison Association in the United States recommends the international director appointment. The Maritime Association is not active at this time.

The Canadian Bison Association is managed by a President who is elected from one of the board members appointed by the regional associations. The CBA consists of an Executive Director, an Office Administrator and Project Coordinator with contract staff hired when required.

The Canadian Bison Association has approximately 550 members throughout Canada. There are also a number of members from the United States.

Our Plan

The bison species is North America’s largest land animal that dominated the North American continent from the time of the ice age until the coming of the Europeans to this continent. Some believe that the early bison and man followed the land bridge connecting Asia and North America some 10,000 years ago. The saber-toothed tigers and the woolly mammoth couldn't successfully adapt to a warming climate, but bison found the grassy plains very accommodating.

The aboriginal people who made the migration over the same land bridge found the abundant supply of bison a very good reason to stay on this side of the bridge. These animals would provide them with food, shelter, tools and fuel for thousands of years. Over time the aboriginal people came to regard the bison as their special gift from the Great Spirit.

Strong winds of change came with the European settlers coming to North America. As settlers moved into the centre of the continent looking for land to farm, minerals to mine and towns to build, the natural home of both the native people and bison diminished. Historical accounts suggest there were 60 million bison in 1800, and in 1899 there were less than 1000 bison left.

The complete loss of a species was prevented by the efforts of ranchers, and conservationists in both Canada and the United States. Some herds were kept in national parks and individual ranchers kept some small herds privately. Gradually the population stabilized and began to grow slowly. In the 1980’s some ranchers who had been supplying the local markets began to have enough product to sell to outside markets. A new livestock industry began in earnest in the 1990’s when farmers and ranchers discovered that the public had an appetite for this heritage food. Bison numbers have expanded Increased.

The 2016 census reported 119,314 bison on 975 Canadian farms and ranches. This reflects an annual compounded growth rate of almost 5.0% since the bison census was first taken in 1996 when 42,235 bison were reported on 745 farms.

It is estimated that as of January 1, 2018 there were about 400,000 bison in North America which were in tribal, public and ranched herds. In Canada, as of January 1, 2018 it is estimated that there were about 975 bison producers who owned almost 150,000 bison – truly a conservation success story.

Note: the industry estimate differs from the 119,314 reported in the census because the industry estimate includes the 2017 calf crop less harvesting and exports.

Vision statement:

To be part of a growing and dynamic industry that is respected for its success

CBA Mission Statement

To bring together its members and create the environment that contributes to the bison industry’s success domestically and globally

In the plan the areas of focus are:

  • Financial stability – Financial stability is required for the CBA to achieve its vision and mission and provide services to its members
    • Membership growth – a larger membership base will provide more leverage in obtaining program funding and policy development. Strategies include:
      • Support for regions to grow membership
      • Grow Associate, Friends of the Industry and Junior Membership base
    • Promote the mentorship program to encourage new producers
    • Continue to identify association operating efficiencies
  • Support Industry Growth
    • Expand the information available on the website to support new producers
    • Continue to familiarize financial institutions with the bison industry
    • Continue to develop the relationship with the First Nations Community
    • Promotion of convention, show and sale
    • Support new producers entering the bison business through mentoring program and information sharing
    • Develop strategies to support Bison 1 million
  • Communications
    • Continue with the following strategies
      • Smoke Signals
      • E-letter
      • Website
      • Social Media – Face Book, Twitter, Instagram
    • Expand the weekly and monthly price reporting to include live animal sales.
    • Have at least two radio/press releases per month
    • Presentations to regions,
  • Marketing
    • Partner with regional associations to support regional and local market development
    • Work with the North American bison industry to ensure efficient live bison and meat trade between Canada and the US.
    • Maximize the use of government market development funding and industry development funds to grow bison exports to Europe on the foundation of CETA implementation.
    • Support the development of market access to Japan
    • Maximize returns to new website and social media
  • Conservation
    • Work with Environment Canada and Parks Canada and support strategies to achieve conservation goals while at the same time achieving commercial bison industry goals
    • Work to ensure that Plains Bison remain unclassified and Wood Bison becomes unclassified under the Species at Risk Act
    • Build on the results of the genomic research to establish a genomic evaluation business model to support the producer management of their genetic resources
    • Support provincial and federal governments in developing a long-term strategy to reduce/eliminate the threat of brucellosis and tuberculosis in the Wood Buffalo National Park bison herd
  • Policy development
    • Contribute to the development of livestock traceability in Canada by supporting implementation of new traceability regulations
    • Continue to support the bison cash advance program
    • Participate in policy development strategies that have an impact on the bison industry
      • Finalize compensation for destroyed animals
      • Development of Livestock Transportation Code
  • Support the Saskatchewan Bison Association in the preparation for IBC 2022.
    • Identify Sponsors
    • Support fund raising activities
    • Identify Speakers
    • Support Pre and Post Convention Tours
  • Work with the National Bison Association to strengthen North American Bison Industry

Drafted November 2019