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Use and Implications of Bovine Somatotropin
Research Reports No. 9, June 2001
by Bradford Barham, Douglas Jackson-Smith, and Sunung Moon

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At the seven-year mark since its introduction, adoption of rBST on Wisconsin dairy farms remains well below the levels predicted by leading analysts prior to its release. Yet, adoption has grown substantially, from 6.6 percent in 1995 to 15.3 percent in 1999. Recent growth has been propelled in part by the exit of non-users as well as by increases in the number of dairy farms using the technology. To the extent that farm exits due to retirement and other factors continue to be both high and more prevalent among non-adopters, rBST adoption rates in Wisconsin (expressed as a percentage of farms) will continue to grow even if there are few new users. However, it is also possible that the recent storm clouds hovering over GMO crops and agricultural biotechnology in general could spill over onto rBST, and that growth in rBST adoption could thereby be curtailed or even reversed. While that scenario is by no means likely, it seems worth keeping in mind, especially compared to a year or two ago when there seemed to be no signs of controversy in the U.S. over GMO crops or any other agricultural biotechnology products. One aim of this paper was to delve deeply into the underlying patterns of rBST adoption among Wisconsin dairy farmers, especially how their decisions may be closely linked to three prevalent types of specialization strategies.

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