Suppliers of Michigan whitetail venison create niche market
The commercial sale of farm-raised Michigan whitetail venison meat is permitted by law and regulation, providing yet another option for consumers who seek a locally-produced protein source.
Every fall in Michigan, more than 650,000 hunters flock to the woods and fields seeking to harvest a whitetail deer, the source of prized venison meat. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 46 percent of all hunters harvested a deer in 2012. That leaves 54 percent of Michigan’s deer hunters coming home without the venison they sought. Fortunately, a Traverse City, Mich. company may be able soothe some of the disappointment of a failed hunt.
Michigan Venison Company, established in 2009, “provides professional chefs and retail stores throughout America with 100% all-natural, authentic whitetail venison and venison-related cooking items.” They can also be purchased by mail order from the Michigan Venison Company website. Its products are billed as containing no growth hormones, artificial ingredients or steroids. No exotic species are sold, “only 100% all natural, wild harvested whitetail venison from Michigan’s northwoods.”
Consumers may wonder how suppliers of wild game in Michigan are regulated. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Venison, antelope, American elk, boar, pheasant, and other game animals are now farm raised in the United States. For an increasing number of restaurants and home diners, game meats are becoming more commonplace. States require restaurants to only serve game that has been slaughtered and dressed under inspection. This can be accomplished under voluntary USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspection.” Additionally, the USDA writes, “Game species raised on farms under appropriate regulations can be sold.”
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food is a USDA effort to carry out President Obama’s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems. From their website: “A surge in consumer demand for locally-produced food is creating jobs and opportunity throughout rural America. Beginning farmers are finding an entry point into agriculture through local markets. Experienced farmers are diversifying their sales to capture added value through local branding. Small businesses are developing new packing, processing, distribution and retail opportunities. And consumers are learning more about where their food comes from and gaining access to fresh, local foods.” Michigan State University Extension has a Community Food Systems team comprised of Extension educators located across Michigan who work to strengthen local and regional food systems.
Clearly, suppliers of Michigan whitetail venison, such as Michigan Venison Company, have found a niche market that aligns well with the USDA’s vision of a strong local and regional food system. Regulation and inspection processes are in place to assure a safe supply. As a result, unsuccessful whitetail hunters no longer have to wait until next year’s hunt to satisfy their appetite for venison.