She was hoping to be up and running by now, but Michelle Young is finally starting to feel like her dream of a bison farm is closer to becoming a reality.
Young has been working on establishing JNJ Bison Corporation for the past four years, including spending time on a bison farm in Alberta to learn the ropes of the business.
Her plan was released from the provincial environmental assessment process more than a year ago, but Young has since ran into some delays with securing funding needed to help finalize the permits to open the farm.
Recently, she secured federal funding through the Ulnooweg aboriginal business development fund program to help move the process along. With that money, she will be able to get fencing materials for the farm and pay for the equipment and labour needed to install the fencing.
It will also help her transport the start-up herd of bison from Alberta to western Newfoundland and buy feed for their first three months in their new home.
The funding will also be used to help leverage other sources of funding that will help establish the first bison farm in the province.
“It’s been a long time to get to this point,” she said. “It’s exciting and I can feel the buzz building about it already.”
Young is now waiting for the finishing touches being put on the surveying of the two parcels of Crown land she has leased near Robinsons. Those documents should be submitted to the provincial government soon.
Then it’s waiting for final approval so she can begin putting up fencing on the first 24 acres and arranging the transportation of the first herd of animals. She figures the fencing job will take about two weeks once she gets the green light.
“That’s going to be enough acreage to contain the animals until I can secure funding to fence the additional acreage,” said Young.
The first herd, which she hopes to have on the farm by August, will consist of one bull and 14 heifers.
“Hopefully, I’ll have 14 little babies running around next year,” she said.
She is also in the process of trying to find investors who can help her bring in some market-ready bison. Young already has an arrangement with a local abattoir that will process the bison when they are ready for market.
“I have a couple of animals that can be purchased in Ontario and New Brunswick, so relatively close for market meat, that I can go pick up myself,” she said.