Many years ago I used to visit my cousins on their dairy farm in upstate New York. A foggy, sprawling area of marsh and farmland, the moors are kind of creepy. But they had what was considered to be a medium scale farm in those days, with a few lines of cows and a few milking machines. The cows were treated pretty well, milked when they could be milked and allowed to feed their calves after birth. The calves were sold off at auction later on, when they were ready. This was their operation, small, clean and profitable.
But times have changed. The need for milk production has exploded beyond the capacity of family dairy farms and the constant demand has fueled enormous operations that must produce 24/7 365. And, as with all other big business applications, money is the bottom line for the milk industry. The major contributor to these factory scale dairy operations and their profitability is recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, also referred to as rBGH or rBST. This is an artificial growth hormone developed by Monsanto to increase dairy cows’ milk output. Industrial agriculture proponents proclaim that farming on a large scale, and using technology such as rBGH, is better for the environment. But is it really?