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By ARep | February 10th, 2014 - 3:33pm
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Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John DiMaio and cleared today by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee would open up greener pastures for bison farmers in New Jersey.

Assembly bill 548 designates bison, or American buffalo as agricultural livestock, subject to regulations of the Department of Agriculture. Currently, the animals are regulated by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife as “exotic species.”

“Buffalo meat has become extremely popular in the last few years, and farmers are working hard to meet the growing demand for the high-quality, healthy option. Bison are being bred and raised to provide meat, so moving the regulation of the industry into the Department of Agriculture is a logical step,” said DiMaio, R-Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset.

Under the current rules, farmers are required to register each animal with the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and to provide costly and unnecessary shelter for animals that survive Minnesota winters in the elements.

“This bill acknowledges that bison are viable agricultural livestock and not an exotic novelty," said DiMaio. "This is good for agriculture in New Jersey, creating economic opportunity and jobs in a growing segment of the market.”

Like beef, bison meat is available as various cuts of steak, burgers, hot dogs and sausage, ribs and roasts. Compared to beef, the meat is lower in fat and cholesterol, and higher in beneficial iron, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.

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