Mexico opens up for U.S. bison imports as herd reintroduced |

Mexico opens up for U.S. bison imports as herd reintroduced

The National Bison Association said Monday that Mexico has formally opened its doors to import U.S.-produced bison meat.

At the request of the National Bison Association, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service formally petitioned Mexico in 2018 to open its market to U.S. bison meat. That request led to extensive discussions between agricultural officials in the two countries over the protocols and procedures that would be required from exporters. Last week, Mexico formally agreed to the protocols recommended by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

USDA FAS formally notified the National Bison Association Friday that Mexico had agreed to the latest procedures proposed by FSIS.

“This is a very positive development for the bison business,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “The Mexican marketplace offers a growth opportunity for our business. Additionally, many consumers in Mexico tend to favor cuts of meat that are not in high demand by U.S. customers, so this can help our marketers balance carcass utilization.”

In an unrelated development, the bison’s presence in northern Mexico in ancient times was recognized in March when a herd of 19 American bison specimens were introduced into El Carmen Nature Reserve in Coahuila to establish the second conservation herd of this species in Mexico.

Cemex, a building materials company based in Monterrey, Mexico, noted it had worked has worked with AES Mexico, the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN), the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) through the General Wildlife Direction, and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) to introduce the herd.

“For almost two decades, we have carried out different alliances with companies and conservation organizations to protect and increase biodiversity in El Carmen. Examples of this include the reintroduction of the American bison, the bighorn sheep, and the pronghorn, as well as the increase in the populations of desert mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black bear,” said Vicente Saisó, director of sustainability at Cemex.

Cemex added, “El Carmen Nature Reserve is a private cross-border conservation area in Mexico and the U.S. that contains five different ecosystems and habitats to diverse species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians over more than 140,000 hectares.”

“The American bison is the largest land mammal in North America and was present in the plains of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. American bison lived in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Durango in Mexico, however, the species was depleted in the second half of the 19th century and is in danger of extinction there.

“Before this collaboration, the only herd of bison considered genetically pure was at Rancho El Uno, owned by FMCN, located within the Janos Biosphere Reserve, Chihuahua. Nineteen animals from this herd were moved to El Carmen by a team of wildlife management specialists.

“American bison will continue to be reintroduced to the El Carmen Nature Reserve until 2021,” Cemex said.

–The Hagstrom Report

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