Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2008

State mulls limiting labels for milk

November 13, 2008


— The Kansas Department of Agriculture is studying a proposal to limit labels advertising milk and dairy products as coming from cows not injected with artificial growth hormones.

Recombinant bovine growth hormone, rbGH or rBST, is injected into cows to boost their milk production, typically by 5 to 15 percent.

Some dairy producers who don't inject their cows with the substances label their milk as containing "no artificial hormones," or "rbGH-free" or "rBST-free."

But the dairy industry contends such labels are misleading, and pushed this year for state legislation making it unlawful to label any farm product with a claim that cannot be confirmed by a laboratory.

"What we are doing is trying to level the playing field for everyone with some level of guidance," said Lisa Taylor, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

The department contends that lab analysis cannot confirm that a dairy product is free of rbGH or rBST, because cows produce the same hormones naturally.

Opponents contend a stricter labeling rule would make it harder for small and medium-sized producers to market their dairy products.

"This is really just an attempt by industry to make things difficult for those who aren't using this artificial hormone," said Mary Fund, spokeswoman for the Kansas Rural Center.

The proposed rule would let manufacturers label a product as coming from cows who were not supplemented with rBST, or something similar.


farmgal 9 years, 7 months ago

People need to be calling the Ks. State Board of Ag. and complaining that they want full disclosure on the labeling. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind want less information? Shame on the big business/dairy industry.

farmgal 9 years, 7 months ago

none2, there are already studies that have proven that added hormones cause health problems. Of course the big dairy industry poo-poos those studies. People have a right to know. Why do you want to withhold information from consumers?

cowboy 9 years, 7 months ago

I'd like to see the market restructured to enable more direct sales of locally produced farm products . The big boys don't want that to happen but it would solve many problems , health , quality , keep the small farms profitable and keep the ground as farms , not new developments. right now theres a lot of hoops to jump thru to retail dairy and meat products. The "natural" meats in the stores suck and the producers are not getting any more in return than the commercial growers , who by the way redwood coast, use about everything but quality grain to fatten those cattle. Cattle do fine on grain if eased onto it and then kept in ample hay diets and they don't need all the medicines that are plowed into them. I'd like to see a way for small producers to get "certified" as a safe producer by the state and have less crap to go thru than a typical retail outlet. Most of the hoops are from the USDA requirements. The name of the game is farmer to consumer , cut out all these middle folks. As a beef producer my last comment is hey Natural/ organic / producers , quit jacking your prices up to the ridiculous level !

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

Well, cowboy, it just costs more to raise cattle on organic diets within federal organic standards than it does conventional standards, as well as raising the organic feed with which to feed those cattle. Quite simply, the agricultural/livestock industry seeks to maximize their profit/cost ratios, thereby increasing their production and profits while diminishing their expenditures. This is made possible by both hormones and antibiotics, which allow the average bovine to provide more than its 'natural' milk or meat. This is unhealthy for both the cattle and the people who consume them. It is an excellent example of mere quantitative production taking precedent over qualitative production.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and I would guess that the KDA is probably run by some K-State good ol' boys. I could be wrong, but it really wouldn't shock me in the least.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

WTF??? Why would you limit a producer on how much of their production process they can detail on their lables??? This sounds pretty sketchy to me.And seriously, conventional cattle ranchers do some pretty messed up things to get the beef we usually buy at the store. They feed them grain, which is not very good for cows, as it makes their gut too acidic. When they become acidic like that, they become prone to infections. To prevent those infections, the cattle are injected with antibiotics. The result is the fatty, mutant, unnatural beef that people buy in stores today.Next I would imagine that they would want to prohibit the labeling of grass-fed and free range/cage-free animal products.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

none2: What about those dairies out there who are trying to make a living based upon such principles as the ones discussed herein? We probably will not receive any unbiased scientific evidence regarding this issue, but why should we not allow consumers to make their own decisions regarding the techniques used to produce the food that they consume?I guarantee if they do not label, then they can sure as the world print or post advertisements detailing their production practices so that consumers can judge for themselves what they want to consume. This just sounds like big-government to me.

cowboy 9 years, 7 months ago

Redwood , please explain to me how it costs more to raise an organic steer ? Most of the requirements I see state no chemical apps on the property for ten years prior so youre not investing in high cost fertilizer applications each year , many are grass finishing so you don't have the grain cost and youre not using implants of any sort . In cattle I just don't see the higher cost other than you keep your stock a bit longer without the growth aids. In dairy yes , in meat production no.biggest issue is middlemen !

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

I can drink milk in Europe and Australia. I cannot drink it here unless it is organic - no rbGH. It makes me quite ill, similar to lactose intolerance. I am of the belief that a fair few people in this country have been diagnosed as lactose intolerant by the doctors or themselves without looking into the real culprit. It explains the timeframe for lactose intolerance being the disease du jour as well as why so many women have it compared to men.Keep those labels! (And do a scientific study on this connection so we can stop poisoning ourselves!)

texburgh 9 years, 7 months ago

Yes, indeed, let's regulate milk labels so we can give the big dairies the edge. They just can't stand to see folks buying milk - for more money - from producers who don't use hormones. As a consumer, I want to know if there are hormones added to my milk (not just the ones that occur naturally); I want to know if my produce was irradiated; I want to know what's organic and what's not. I can make my own consumer choices but I want information.I've got a better idea for milk. Why not require the dairies who use hormones to label their product as having additional hormones added. They could put on the label "Now with more hormones!" I'm sure it would sell.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

I still think that the cost of raising organic cattle are much higher, and that is due to the nature of inputs in certified organic farming operations. Quite simply, modern agriculture and animal science has progressed to a point where the final product is about 50% attributable to the plant/animal, and the other 50% is all the crap they do to the plant/animal to keep it alive. You take away that 50% of heavy pesticide/fertilizer/antibiotic/RBGH use, and all you're left with is the plant or the animal. Organic agriculture is more prone to pests and diseases than conventional agriculture, which reduces the output potential. Thus the farmer/rancher will need to raise the price of their commodity in order to make the same sort of profits that they could with conventional techniques. When it comes to organic beef, there are two major routes that folks take. They can either keep the modern feed-lot methods and use only organic grains to feed the cattle. Or they can do the grass-fed thing, which is what cattle are meant to eat, as opposed to grain. So because you don't have the luxury of conventional pest and disease control, your input costs are going to be higher (organic stuff is just more expensive than conventional) and your output is going to be lower.I worked at a natural foods store for about five years. It always tickled me when people would come in just to look around would ask me why the organic products were so much more expensive than the conventional products, since they don't have to pay for pesticides and fertilizers. That should cut cost, right? Well, the undeniable truth here is that it simply costs more to be an organic producer. And you mention that folks have to abstain from pesticide use for 10 years before gaining certification. What do they do during this period? They can't market as organic, so they can't get the organic prices for their essentially organic products. As a result of going organic, their production decreases, along with their revenues. One must be financially established with a good deal of capital to think about becoming certified organic because it is usually a tough 10 years.

Melinda Black 9 years, 3 months ago

This drives me nuts. If you don't care about rbGH or rBST, then fine, that is your choice. But some of us do care about what Monsanto is putting in our milk and ultimately, our children. I see this legislation as is a thinly veiled attempt to punish milk producers that don't use their products.

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