Prepared Foods February 28, 2005 enewsletter

Tillamook Creamery Association's board voted unanimously to require all 147 member dairy farmers to go rBGH-free.

According to a story by television station KGW, "A barrage of consumer questions and complaints has convinced the Tillamook Creamery Association to force all of its dairies to abandon the use of genetically engineered growth hormones in its cows."

Consumer groups started contacting Tillamook a year ago about rBGH and began a full-scale postcard, phone call and e-mail campaign about six months ago. Combined with other people independently asking questions, Jim McMullen, Tillamook president, concluded, "When 8% of your customers are talking about that issue, that's substantial, and we need to listen."

According to KGW, the Three Mile Canyon dairy in Boardman, Ore., that supplies a large amount of milk to Tillamook has also signed an agreement to go rBGH-free. The dairy is not formally part of Tillamook's co-op. At this point, the precise date of going completely rBGH-free is not known, but it may be in the next few months.

However, this is not a fait accompli. Monsanto has been doing everything possible to derail the decision and reportedly sent one of its lawyers to Oregon to organize dissident Tillamook farmers who want to continue using the drug. He has succeeded in getting 10% of the membership to request a general meeting of all 147 members to vote on overturning the board's decision. This meeting will probably be held by the end of this month.

Tillamook sells cheese nationwide, butter throughout the western U.S. and ice cream, yogurt and sour cream in most stores in the Pacific Northwest. It is one of the oldest, largest dairies in the country.