South Dakota State University researchers are helping the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe revive its bison production with the aid of a $43,809 United States Department of Agriculture grant, according to the SDSU news release.
Currently, maintaining its herd of approximately 125 buffalo on its Moody County, South Dakota, lands costs the tribe money. SDSU plans to make bison production profitable by inciting internal demand for the high-protein bison meat, which is leaner and healthier than commercial beef.
As part of the “complete organic revitalization of the tribe’s herd,” the SDSU team will enforce a strict diet on the cattle, eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides, and the bison will graze in chemical-free pasture lands.
SDSU researchers expect the grant to cover the initial funds of the three-year transitional process, although additional monetary support will be needed to see the project to completion, reports the Moody County Enterprise.
“The goal of this program is to help producers make the transition and develop markets for their agricultural products that are organic,” said SDSU experiment station economist Scott Fausti. He also hopes to “integrate the bison into the lifestyles of the Native American community a little bit more fully than it is now.”