Organic dairy proponents often imply that BST use is ubiquitous in commercial dairy herds across the country. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.
Buried in cost-of-production estimates released by USDA this spring and since updated, BST is being used in less than 9% of U.S. dairy herds.
It’s also not true that the very largest herds use BST at the greatest rates. USDA estimates that less than 7% of herds with 1,000 or more cows use BST. About 22% of herds with 500-999 cows use it, and about 12% of herds with 200-499 cows use it. Less than 2% of herds with 50 or few cows use BST (about 11% of these very small herds have organic milk sales).
The largest percentage of herds using BST is in Kansas, of all places, likely because dairies there have markets that allow its use. USDA estimates a third of Kansas dairies use BST.
Next highest on the list is Wisconsin, at 22% of herds. Other states that are using BST at higher rates than the national norm: Pennsylvania, 21%; Minnesota, 19%; New York, 14%, and Iowa, 13%. California usage is reported at 5%.