Legislation Protects U.S. Bison Industry, Ensures Clear Labeling of Buffalo and Water Buffalo in Products
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Hoeven (R-ND) announced that they have introduced the Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act, legislation to fix a deceptive labeling issue that is negatively impacting the U.S. bison industry. The legislation would provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the authority to prohibit water buffalo products from being marketed as “buffalo.”
“Misleading labeling does a disservice to bison ranchers, who have worked hard to create a growing market for bison,” said Bennet. “By requiring that water buffalo products be labeled accurately, our legislation will go a long way in addressing this misleading practice, provide transparency for American consumers, and safeguard the U.S. bison industry.”
“This legislation prevents the deceptive marketing of water buffalo as buffalo,” said Hoeven. “Our bill provides clarification to consumers by giving FDA the authority necessary to ensure proper labeling of water buffalo and establishing that buffalo is a common name for bison.”
“Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s member-developed grassroots policy states consumers have the right to know what is in their food, whether for human or pet consumption. We support uniform federal labeling standards for food, and oppose misleading, inaccurate, and vague label language. Agricultural products should be labeled accurately, as their purpose is to both educate and inform the consumer, give producers marketing advantages, and add value to products. Labeling water buffalo as “buffalo” is inaccurate and intentionally misleads consumers. We firmly stand with our friends at the National Bison Association in support of the Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act and look forward to its swift passage,” said Dr. Dale McCall, President of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.
“Colorado Farm Bureau is always in support of transparency in labeling for the consumer and grower's benefit. It is important that food items are distinguishable for what they are. Fair and honest labels make things clear and concise and do not create winners and losers or vilify any product. Colorado Farm Bureau is grateful to Senator Bennet and Senate sponsors for providing clarity in this process,” said Chad Vorthmann, Executive Vice President of Colorado Farm Bureau.
“Senators Hoeven and Bennet are once again standing shoulder to shoulder with the American bison ranchers who have worked hard for the past two decades to build a relationship with our customers that is founded in the quality of the meat produced from this magnificent animal. The legislation they introduced today will protect that relationship by prohibiting the sale of water buffalo products that are labeled only as ‘buffalo’. That’s a win for ranchers and their customers,” said Dave Carter, Executive Director of National Bison Association.
Last year, the senators led a letter to the FDA highlighting concerns with the growing number of imported water buffalo meat and pet food ingredients on the market being deceptively labeled as “buffalo.” In response, FDA indicated that it does not currently have a specific regulation regarding the marketing of either water buffalo or bison, but the agency agreed that water buffalo should be labeled as “water buffalo” and bison should be labeled as “bison” or “buffalo.”
The legislation is supported by Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Intertribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, R-CALF USA, Colorado Farm Bureau, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and the North Dakota Farmers Union.