TRUTH IN BUFFALO LABELING ACT

Devils Lake Journal Staff Report

North Dakota  – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) today introduced the Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act, legislation to prevent water buffalo products from being deceptively labeled as buffalo, which misleads consumers and negatively impacts the U.S. bison industry. 

The bipartisan bill provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with authority to ensure that products with water buffalo are marketed as “water buffalo” so consumers aren’t misled to believe the product contains bison, which is commonly referred to as buffalo in the United States. Bison products would continue to be labeled as “bison” or “buffalo”.

 “Our bipartisan legislation would prevent consumers from being misled and ensure that labels clearly reflect whether a product contains water buffalo or bison,” said Hoeven. “Specifically, the legislation requires water buffalo to be accurately labeled and establishes that buffalo is a common name for bison. That’s good for consumers and good for bison ranchers.”

“Colorado’s bison producers work hard to grow their markets and deliver high quality meat. Misleading labeling undermines their efforts and makes it harder for consumers to know what they’re buying,” said Bennet. “By requiring water buffalo products to have accurate labels, our bill helps support American bison producers and delivers transparency for consumers.”

“Americans have long associated the term ‘buffalo’ with American bison. Some companies are now importing water buffalo meat and ingredients and labeling it only as ‘buffalo’ which can mislead consumers,” said Perlmutter. “The Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act will halt that deceptive practice and protect consumers and ranchers alike.”

“The American public has the right to know exactly what is in the products that they’re purchasing. Many Americans associate the term ‘buffalo’ with American bison, and for far too long, companies have exploited this misconception,” said Long. “The Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act will protect consumers and ranchers by preventing companies from using generic terms that are clearly intended to mislead consumers.”

“Bison producers have worked hard to connect with consumers around the high quality of the meat, and the role that these magnificent animals are playing in restoring healthy grasslands,” said Dave Carter, Executive Director of the National Bison Association. “Those efforts are being undermined by deceptively-labeled water buffalo. The Truth in Buffalo Labeling Act will protect both the hard-working ranchers and their customers.”

The senators introduced the legislation after hearing concerns that imported water buffalo meat and pet food ingredients on the market are being deceptively labeled as “buffalo.” The senators led a letter to the FDA outlining these concerns, and in response, the FDA indicated that it does not currently have a specific regulation regarding the marketing of either water buffalo or bison. The agency agreed that water buffalo should be labeled as “water buffalo” and bison should be labeled as “bison” or “buffalo”.

In addition to Hoeven and Bennet, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

The legislation is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Colorado Farm Bureau, Intertribal Buffalo Council, National Bison Association, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, North Dakota Farmers Union and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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