Who is Paying the Cost for Organic and rbST Free Milk?

OHIO - More consumers are buying organic and fewer area dairy farmers are using rbST on their herds. But with decreased production, who will pay the added cost? Rick Armon, Beacon Journal, asks the question.
calendar icon 21 January 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

Michael Byun didn't hesitate as he reached the grocery store milk aisle. He grabbed a gallon of Smith's 2 percent milk with the words ''rbST-Free'' and ''free of artificial growth hormones'' featured prominently on the label. Even though it costs about $1 more, he's willing to pay extra. ''It's that or organic,'' the 33-year-old Akron resident said last week during a visit to Acme in West Akron.

With more customers seeking out organic and natural products, the Ohio dairy industry is responding with a major milk reformation. Soon, all the store-brand milk sold at Acme Fresh Markets, Giant Eagle and Kroger groceries will come from cows not treated with rbST, an artificial hormone that helps the animals produce more milk.

Fishers Foods in Stark County already has converted all its milk.

The consumer won't notice a difference in taste — there is none. Or a difference in health risks — there are none, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But they may see a difference in price, at least in the short term as the supply of milk dips because farmers are no longer using the hormone.

''If anybody believes there's no cost to this, they've missed Economics 101,'' said Dr. Normand St-Pierre, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University. ''Somebody is losing in this and consumers are one of them.''

For the Full Story The Akron Beacon Journal

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