According to the publication Dairy Today, the Idaho Dairymen'sAssociation is circulating a letter encouraging Idaho dairy processors to "drop the ban" on using rBST. The hormone is known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or artificial growth hormone. Monsanto has marketed it in the past as POSILAC.
I spoke this morning with Bob Naerbout, the executive director of the Idaho Dairymen's Association about the letter. He explained that all processors in Idaho currently require farmers to sign off with each delivery that their milk is rBST free. They are advocating for processors to lift that requirement in order for Idaho dairy producers to compete with dairies around the country that are not confined by that restriction. He stated that over 90% of the dairy produced in Idaho is shipped out of state and they are at a competitive disadvantage. rBST helps cows produce more milk.
Mr. Naerbout said that the ban was initially put in place because of anticipated consumer demand for rBST free dairy products, but he said that is not the case and that the "vast majority" of consumers are not demanding rBST free products. A "vocal small minority," he said, are the ones who oppose rBST.
He said that the bottom line is that consumers deserve a choice, and they are free to make that choice, and the processors should be free to choose when it comes to rBST as well.
The problem with the power of consumer choice is that the source of dairy products is very difficult to pin down. I recently checked the source of dairy products in my fridge and they were from all over the country and none of them had any information on rBST.
I have a call into the Washington Dairy Products Commission to find out about Washington Rules and Regulation re: rBST. Mr Naerbout did say that Darigold processors don't take milk with rBST, and Inland Northwest Dairy in Spokane is owned by Dairgold.