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MailTribune.com
  • Buying bison

    Williams ranchers strike it big with newly certified organic meat
  • Full Circle bison meat had customers' seal of approval almost as soon as Williams ranchers Tobias and Abigail Hatfield started selling it in 2003.
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  • Full Circle bison meat had customers' seal of approval almost as soon as Williams ranchers Tobias and Abigail Hatfield started selling it in 2003.
    Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has stamped Full Circle bison meat as certified organic, a status that only broadens its already wide appeal, Tobias Hatfield says.
    "The bison itself has become more and more popular," he says. "People are realizing what a great meat it is."
    David Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, says bison enjoys a "sweet spot" between interest in healthy foods, sustainable farming and a broadening American palate. Americans last year bought 31 million pounds of bison meat, about double from five years earlier. Full Circle's sales at Medford and Ashland farmers markets have doubled within the past two years alone as customers have become more interested in eating locally produced foods, Hatfield says.
    "People realize that the meat has traveled no more than 50 miles," he says. "That's almost unheard of."
    Raised entirely on organic pasture and hay, Hatfield's bison are slaughtered in his fields, and the meat is butchered at The Butcher Shop in Eagle Point, also USDA certified to handle organic meat. Taylor's sausage in Cave Junction cranks out Full Circle's most popular products: salami and hot dogs.
    Rapid increase in demand allowed Full Circle to embark on an entirely direct-to-consumer sales strategy this summer, when Hatfield stopped his supply to a handful of local grocery stores. Full Circle also pared back its restaurant customers, retaining only Standing Stone Brewing Co. and Grilla Bites in Ashland and Magnolia Grill in Ruch, Hatfield says.
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