Written by Sarah Gleason, Savory Director or Marketing and Communication
The International Bison Conference is held once every five years and alternates the location between the United States and Canada. This year, the event was hosted in Big Sky, Montana with over 600 attendees comprised of ranchers, tribal representatives, conservation groups, and bison merchants. The impressive line up of speakers began with a keynote from Dr. James Hurrell from the National Center for Atmospheric Research where he began the climate change discussion with his talk: ‘The Climate, It is a Changin’. Along with climate discussions, the event included breakout sessions covering bison health, bison marketing and branding, and bison restoration. The National Bison Association (NBA) announced its Bison 1 Million campaign which desires to take the bison population from an estimated 391,000 to 1 million in North America.
It was not possible to attend the conference and not hear of Savory or Holistic Management. At the welcoming event of the first night, singer/song-writer, Michael Martin Murphy, gave an incredible performance complete with multiple references to Allan Savory and an over 3 minute long story of his first encounter with Allan and holistic management which transformed his personal ranch in southwest New Mexico. Savory CEO, Daniela Ibarra-Howell, then presented her keynote titled, “Managing for Success in a Changing Climate” on the first full day of the program. She invited the NBA Executive Director, Dave Carter, and 777 Bison Ranch owner, Mimi Hillenbrand, to join her on stage and discuss their own experiences with managing holistically and the affect that it has had in their lives and on their land. Carter owns interest in the bison which are managed on the newly acquired Savory West Bijou Ranch east of Denver, and Hillenbrand has been a long-time partner of Savory with over 30 years of holistic management practice.
Savory also had a well-positioned booth at the event where hundreds of attendees were able to locate their region’s Savory Hub, learn more about becoming a Savory Accredited Professional or a Savory Hub, learn more about holistic management, or simply ask questions of the Savory staff. The conference included a film festival in which Savory’s film, The Story of Meat, was shown. This episode highlights the Savory global hub network and their work with local producers, the brands that want to support this work, and their incredible stories of hope and regeneration. Epic Bar was also in attendance and contributed their film in partnership with NorthStar Bison to the film festival, highlighting the power of holistic management and what can be accomplished when great partners come together.
Savory Director of Corporate Development, Bobby Gill, with Sally Ranney, President of AREI, and Ted Turner at the Flying D Ranch.
The conference ended with a break-taking trip to Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch outside Bozeman, MT. Here attendees had the opportunity to see thousands of bison grazing beautiful pastures and hear closing remarks from the NBA, The Hartman Group Research Firm, Quivera Coalition/National Young Farmers, and the Center for Rural Affairs.
Throughout the event, the theme of climate change and the role of bison, regenerative agriculture, and proper management permeated conversations. With such a strong presence by Savory, the interest in becoming part of our global network, or at the very least, learning to manage holistically, was great. We look forward to fostering new relationships, offering resources and education to many more producers, and supporting the National Bison Association and Canadian Bison Association in their endeavors.