Neil Hochstein - Bison Producers of Alberta in Mayerthorpe, AB
Neil is in his second year as a director with the Bison Producers of Alberta, but it is not his first director job - He is also involved with the Kinsmen, Rangeton Park and 4-H.
Neil has been raising Bison at his ranch in Mayerthorpe, AB for 10 years. Before that, his grandfather (Tom Meerheimb) had been raising bison at the same ranch since the start of 1984.
The ranch is called Alberta Bison Ranch and they have had a very interesting history- first raising pure bred Angus cattle, then Wild Boars, and lastly Plains Bison.
As a youngster Neil worked with his family in a beef feedlot operation in the foothills of Pincher Creek, AB. While he was attending Olds College and studying agriculture, the BSE crisis came into play. He witnessed not only the beef feedlot and cattle industry suffer in not being able to send their product to the United States, but also the bison industry my grandfather Tom was so involved in. Local markets for bison meat were the solution then, and in his mind - they would be for the future. So he made the decision to raise Bison, and took over the Bison ranch of his grandfather when he retired. Neil now raises over 220 Pure Plains Bison, keeping all the calves for two years. At that time he sells some for strong breeding stock, and process many to supply his own local market. This involves a lot of direct contact with the public, understanding which bison meat cuts are needed in various areas, and how to move all cuts with the most profit and sustainability. He doesn't just rely on the farmers markets, but have individual sales to restaurants which play a big role in our Industry.
Neil wants to see the Bison association grow stronger, which in turn will help to support the markets and create sustainability for the industry. And Neil wants to help pave this path!